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Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites 251

Posted by timothy
from the it'll-cost-ya dept.
Google is apparently displeased with sites designed to extract money from arrestees in exchange for removing their mugshot pictures online, and is tweaking its algorithms to at least reduce their revenue stream. From the article at The New York Times: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. ... The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. ... But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public."
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Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites

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  • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @04:21PM (#45052859)

    The simple solution is to press extortion charges against websites that offer to take down pictures of the subjects for money.

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @04:41PM (#45052971) Journal

    > the simple solution is not to be a bad person.

    They're putting up *ALL* booking photos. Even those who are innocent. Your solution would work if nobody was ever wrongly arrested.

  • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @04:56PM (#45053021) Homepage Journal

    Someone (like a prospective employer) searching your name on Google will not know if a mugshot photo is you or just someone with the same common name.

    On the other hand, having the same as a criminal can still confuse human resources departments who assume that the person whose name is on the application is the same person whose mugshot is on the site, provided the skin color matches. It's happened with the no-fly list, and it's happened with a 4-year-old rapist [cracked.com].

  • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @05:10PM (#45053115)

    It doesn't work.

    Google should ALSO be pulling the plug on that "rip off report" site that let's anyone leave negative comments of any kind about anyone under any circumstances (including name, phone number, domains, address, etc) and never *ever* removes it . . . but will work with the person being attacked . . . if they pay for the "business/corporate relation services".

    I banned a user from my website almost a decade ago for defrauding other users, using false information for their account, and sending death threats to other users (and myself) and shortly after, that person posted some pretty awful stuff on the site which I have no way to ever remove, unless I want to submit to the extortion of the guy behind that site. Google includes their results right at the top of most people's results (though I believe Yahoo! has since dinged the domain for SEO spamming).

    It's no different than these mugshots, except that at least with mugshots, you have been arrested. With these "reputation" and "consumer protection" sites that are actual extortionists (especially this one), you don't have to have been arrested. Or even have done business with the person making the attack. Or even *have* a business (I don't and didn't). You can literally just take anyone you're pissed off at and sale vile things about them on the site, include personal information and contact information and so on, and it'll be up there until the end of time, marring any searches for them in the future.

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @05:13PM (#45053135)

    It isn't simple at all, my dear ass, because as other comments have pointed out these pictures are taken for *anyone* that gets booked... whether or not you even committed a crime.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:03PM (#45054093) Homepage Journal

    Good, somebody read the exceptions.

    There are also privacy rights, which go beyond the copyright.
    http://www.loc.gov/homepage/legal.html#privacy_publicity [loc.gov]

    Since these web sites are trying to make money, there may also be publicity rights, which are subject to even greater restrictions.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:49PM (#45055705)

    You still missed the point.

    An arrest doesn't mean you're guilty. It doesn't mean you even had anything to do with what happened.

    You go out in an Old Navy T-shirt and jeans one day and someone wearing the same clothes snatches an old lady's purse. You could very well get arrested because you match the description. Even if you prove that you're innocent of everything but similar fashion choices as a criminal, you still have an arrest record (no conviction, but an arrest). A lot of places will discriminate on that arrest record - even when found innocent. That is not fair, and is by no means an accurate way to gauge the trustworthiness of potential employees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2013 @03:46AM (#45056525)

    Uhm, no?

    ~five years ago I was arrested by US customs and handed over to the FBI when arriving in the USA (on my own ship). Accused of smuggling drugs and being part of a criminal organisation. As the charges were bullocks I was eventually freed and actually apologised to ("wrong ship, we acted on an anonymous informer" etc etc etc... turns out this happens to sailors a LOT when entering the US..). My photo can still be found on those websites though and as the business I'm in is based on trust (I'm a consultant doing IT network safety for big companies / governments) I loose work on this. Basically I'm being punished even though I did not nothing wrong.

  • by oobayly (1056050) on Monday October 07, 2013 @03:48AM (#45056539)

    The best solution is suck it up and bite the bullet, when enough people get busted and the questionable behaviour gets exposed as being the norm people become less embarrassed by. For the lying hypocritical jackass political types, who try to make our lives a misery expose the more and more and more.

    What about the people who were arrested as they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and subsequently released without charge. Why should their photos be up there, and why should they be expected to pay to have them removed.

    The Dutch have the right idea - you're not allowed to publish a person's name or likeness (photo, artist's rendition) unless they have been convicted. It has occasionally resulted in the amusing situation of CCTV stills being published with a box over the eyes, but it certainly stops people's lives being fucked up by the media who will plaster faces on the front page, and then ignore it when they are never charged.

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