Mugshot Publication: Does mugshot publishing make you look bad on Google? We can help.
The internet has made almost everything available online. We are used to finding someone new and then typing their name into a search engine to see what results come up.
It is possible that a mugshot may suddenly appear during one of these searches, regardless of criminal history. Many websites today are dedicated to finding these arrest details and mugshots, even though they don’t consider the outcome.
Is this legal?
The law is complex, unfortunately. A mugshot is not an offense. Because all police actions are public records, this is why it’s not illegal to post a mugshot
It is illegal, however, that many of these companies offer people the chance to pay them to remove their mugshot publications. This is believed to be extortion and blackmail and has led to legal and court interest.
The Business of Mugshot Publication
The police will keep a mugshot of the suspect for their records. Sometimes, the local police department will also place it on their website, but only for a few more days.
In recent years, however, many commercial companies have begun to use the internet to search for arrest records and mugshots and post them online. Data brokers make a profit by selling personal data online and sometimes post mugshots.
These commercial companies all claim they are protecting the public by giving people information about who they have in common or who lives on their street. These companies really just want to make money, and they hope the people listed on their websites will pay them to remove their images.
These records and mugshots can quickly add up to a lot of money.
Mugshot Removal Companies
Websites may claim to be ethical by removing information for free, provided that the person can prove they weren’t charged or exonerated. They often don’t give details about how they do it.
These websites have led to the creation of other companies that can help people remove their arrest records online. You can find more information about mugshot removal here.
New laws in a variety of states have made it easier for mugshots to be removed and made it illegal to upload pictures. Oregon makes it illegal to charge people for information removal if there was no conviction or a reduction to a violation.
Unfortunately, many websites listing this information are located in other countries such as Russia or Pakistan, so US law does not apply to them.
There are many solutions. First, several online payment gateways including PayPal now refuse to accept payments to mugshot websites. Google has also changed their algorithm to remove mugshots from the top of their pages.
People who had their convictions expunged or not convicted have filed a class-action lawsuit in Connecticut. These people claim that having this information on record is defamation, which is when an individual’s reputation has been damaged by false information.
Florida supports this class-action lawsuit and is currently debating a bill to force records to be updated. This bill would require that mugshots of those who have not been convicted of a crime are taken down.
Another suit is about the right to publicity. This individual right is also at issue. Individuals have the right to control how their image is used commercially. This allows them to make sure that they are not being exploited by others. Some people claim that these websites engage in extortion or blackmail, requiring payment to remove negative information.
Companies that list criminal records, arrest information and mugshots will not be in violation of the law until these cases are resolved.
It is best to use companies that specialize in removing this information from search engines and commercial websites. This is more cost-effective than starting a lawsuit. It is especially true if the information has been listed on multiple websites or if each site needs to remove them.
Alex Adekola is a thought leader in the reputation management industry who has targeted mugshot publishers since 2012. Alex Adekola is the longest-serving reputation and crisis management strategist and has written a book on mugshot removal. He is the creator and director of strategy at RemoveMyMugshot.org