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Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites 251

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 asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @04:31PM (#45052913)

    I'm pretty sure the pictures are considered public domain, in the same way that certain other legal information is. That's assuming that the person really was convicted of the crime and the picture was officially released or otherwise searchable through traditional means.

    Otherwise, we'd have constant reports of celebrities filling lawsuits every time one of their mugshots is posted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @04:43PM (#45052977)

    It's obviously public domain, but by when require a ransom to take it down, it becomes extortion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @05:11PM (#45053121)

    I applaud Google for this move but the solution is for LEO not to release pictures or other personally identifiable information about people who have not been convicted in the first place because doing so can ruin an innocent person's life and innocent people get charged with crimes all the time. On a related note, when Strauss-Kahn got the "perp walk" treatment, many in France were shocked because the practice is banned [telegraph.co.uk] there to protect the innocent,

  • by kermidge ( 2221646 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @05:35PM (#45053267) Journal

    I don't think you know how things work.

    Even for the simple exercise of free speech and assembly, the order of the day is increasingly "catch and release", often without so much as a ticket for most yet all are routinely fingerprinted and photographed. This was not uncommon all the way back to anti-war protests in the '70s and it's only gotten worse.

    Will you seriously contend that exercising basic rights [once-upon-a-time] protected by the constitution makes one a bad person?

    Mayhap you presume that anyone arrested is automatically guilty of something and deserving of conviction? Is someone convicted under what is later shown to be bad law also a bad person?

    Well, then, carry on, Citizen, the State needs more like you.

  • Re:Not legal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @05:42PM (#45053301)

    It's the American obsession with mugshots. Again, something the rest of the world will never understand. Here in .cz, you'd be probably thrown into jail for spreading such photos in the first place.

    Actually, it's an important civil rights issue. Arrests are public as a way of preventing secret arrests, which were used in pre-revolutionary time and, sadly continue in many places. Its origins lie in the sixth sixth amendment to the United States' constitution [wikipedia.org], which tries to guarantee a swift and public trial as a check on the police, the public prosecutors and the judicial system.

    Sure, it's not perfect. The system can and is being abused by jerks (but then again there are jerks in every country). The "perp walks" [wikipedia.org] that cops do are also an exploitative use of a tool designed to rein them in. And I suspect the prohibition on secret arrests has been violated from time to time :-(. Not to mention a arrest is something most people would not like spread around (I wouldn't!).

    But don't condemn the obsession with public mugshots without understanding their purpose.

  • Re:Not legal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @06:40PM (#45053637)

    I think the conflict isn't as much about public arrests but about a clash between free speech and privacy rights. In America, you can take a photo of someone and distribute it without their consent. This is limited in many other places. There's still footage of arrests, but the faces have to be blurred out on TV.

  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @06:51PM (#45053693) Homepage Journal
    This is a real problem. In an age where you can destroy a completely innocent life with a few mouseclicks I'm really surprised there's not been more of an outcry. Its trivial to destroy some one's credit and make them look like they're felons... and complete hell to correct these things.
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:08PM (#45054139) Homepage Journal

    Yes, it is simple. Don't do illegal stuff.

    And don't be black.

  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:18PM (#45054201) Homepage Journal
    That post was moderated "troll", seriously? And I thought /. was populated with atleast a few thinkers... I defy anyone to make me see the light and explain how that was a troll?
  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:45PM (#45055683)

    Or hispanic.
    Or middle eastern.
    Or look like you're poor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:34AM (#45056297)

    Makes perfect sense. A lot of the neofascists we've gotten have been from formerly or currently repressive ex-soviet states. What you and your countrymen do not realize is that:

    1. The fact that college liberals are a little confused does not mean that there is not a case to be made for creeping fascism in this country
    2. Someone having had their formative years in a soviet republic HAS NO FUCKING IDEA what they are talking about when it comes to politics

    Seriously, A fmr. soviet citizen effectively claiming to be all-knowing about repressive governments as you are doing is like a jew claiming monopoly on suffering. You run from one repressive regime to a free(er) country and then proceed to do your level best to turn this country into the opposite of what you experienced, not realizing that both extremes are equally bad.

    Dismissing current problems of corporatism and fascism-lite with a cute anecdote about McCarthy shows exactly how little you've been paying attention.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost