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National

Fight Against Mugshot Sites Brings Little Success

[pewtrusts.org]

Mike Anderson was an 18-year-old freshman at Texas State University when he was busted with less than a gram of weed. Police arrested him, took his mugshot, and he spent the night in jail.

The legal consequences for being caught with such a small amount of marijuana — just enough for a joint or two — were minimal, but expensive. Prosecutors offered to drop the charges if he attended a drug program and did community service, and he could later get the record of his arrest expunged for about $500, wiping the history of his arrest from public view.

“After I got it expunged I thought it was pretty much a done deal,” he said of the order granted earlier this year.

But the next time he Googled his name, he realized the ordeal was far from over. His arrest photo was posted on Mugshots.com. The page was one of the top results for anyone who might be looking for him. And as Anderson applied for internships — a graduation requirement for mechanical engineering majors — recruiters who initially seemed interested would offer the spot to someone else.

“It wasn’t right,” said Anderson, a junior, who asked that his real name not be used for fear of drawing further attention to his mugshot.

“I called [Mugshots.com] on the phone, and they told me basically the only way I could get the mugshot to come down was to pay a certain fine. Proof of expunction wasn’t valid.”

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They may have legal recourse to sue the company denying employment, or firing. When you sign the release for a background check, you are consenting that it only be done with a registered Credit Reporting Agency (CRA), mugshots.com or google.com, are not CRAs under the law. Thus, it is improper, breach of contract, borderline illegal to make a job determination from sources other than a CRA. If Mugshots won’t go away, make it so companies can’t use them for employment actions.

The only way to bring around change is through the pockets.

I’ve discovered the best defense against these sites, is to “pollute the information,” to the point the posted information becomes unbelievable. Many sites give visitors the opportunity to contribute additional information. In my case, certain sites now list me as a disabled, tatted, transgendered, bearded, female.

All you need to add is “married to a goat”.

Nothing stopping a state legislature from passing laws requiring ISPs to block access to offending websites to prevent residents of the state from accessing the mug shots. Sites like Mughsots.com would have to accept the fact that less people are going to have access to it’s site, or remove mugshots.

Wouldn’t that be an unconstitutional regulation of interstate commerce, a power which is delegated solely to Congress?

I think that would be unconstitutional if a law were passed, but consider this… Net Neutrality was canned by the FCC so theoretically there is nothing stopping ISPs from blocking these sites on their own accord.

Google and other search engines could be persuaded to de-list/de-rank sites like mugshots.com. This appears to have happened to that sex offender mugshot site operated by that fine upstanding gentleman in Arizona, as my listing on that site (which I won’t mention) no longer appears in a Google search of my name. Starve these sites of traffic and I think they’ll wither away like weeds.

My listing on mugshots.com still ranks as a top result if someone queries my name, despite it being recently made illegal to host a California mugshot for commercial gain (and I, of course, will never pay them a dime). Slimy f***ing weasels.

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