Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mug shot misuse on internet: How to end exploitation

Date:
December 10, 2013
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
When a person is arrested, part of the procedure is to have a ‘booking photo’ taken of the accused.In the US, these are stored on arresting agency websites and are publicly available.There has been a rise in the practice of ‘scraping’ mug shots and posting them live on websites where anyone can chance upon a photo of a loved one or friend who may have inadvertently committed a minor offense.Thousands of individuals have been affected by this phenomenon in terms of employability and reputation, and are having to pay specialist companies to remove the photos from public view.

In this article published in Information & Communications Technology Law, Morgan Vasigh documents the online abuse of mug shots, known as 'scraping'. When a person is arrested, part of the procedure is to have a 'booking photo' taken of the accused. In the US these are stored on arresting agency websites and are publicly available. There has been a rise in the practice of 'scraping' mug shots from the public records and posting them live on websites where anyone can chance upon a photo of a loved one or friend who may have inadvertently committed a minor offence. Thousands of individuals have been affected by this phenomenon in terms of employability and reputation, and are having to pay specialist companies to remove the photos from public view. Vasigh discusses the issues and Florida law surrounding 'scraping' and makes recommendations for change.

Related Articles


Mug shot sites create revenue by advertising. They use adept search engines to drive traffic towards their site, one site stating it received over 15 million page views in one month. Adverts promoting mug shot sites are also placed on other sites, creating direct links to the mug shot site. Mug shot websites charge arrestees to remove their photo and, by doing so, generate large amounts of revenue. There is also a tendency for mug shot sites to refer arrestees to an apparent external 'reputation vendor', which remove mug shots. There is however some doubt as to whether reputation fixing companies are truly independent or whether they are in cahoots with the mug shot companies themselves.

The creation of the mug shot industry has raised legal questions about commercial exploitation and misappropriation of photographs and identities for advertising and financial gain. Vasigh argues that in doing so, mug shot industries are flouting several Florida statues which prevent publicity for 'unjust enrichment' and 'unauthorized commercial exploitation of one's identity… to prevent harmful or excessive commercial use'. In the article Vasigh documents historical cases of statutory misappropriation of identity, likening them to the mug shot industry and stating his case as to why he believes this practice is illegal.

In Florida, there are exceptions to misappropriation laws, relating to artistic works, and also to newsworthy items of public interest. In the case of mug shots however, there is little connection to art and the blanket approach to publicising photos weakens the case for newsworthiness. The internet has propelled the mug shot from the filing cabinet in the County Sheriff's office to instant internet visibility. 'Scraping' is causing privacy violations for many people, some of whom are not convicted, or were otherwise good citizens who had a minor run-in with the law... In February 2013, a new Florida bill was proposed which stipulated that all personal data should be removed within 15 days of an accused being acquitted, or charges being dropped. The bill did not get passed due to implications for Sheriffs, journalists and for lack of remit on sites publishing from outside the US. It also had not covered the issue of reputation fixers. Several other US states have successfully challenged the mug shot industry. Vasigh concludes with a comprehensive list of suggestions for Florida state legislature regarding mug shot abuse, expressly prohibiting 'scraping' and charging for removal of personal details on commercial websites.

As one court said 'A mug shot 'is a vivid symbol of criminal accusation, which…is often equated with…guilt'. Vasigh points out that anyone can be affected from a straight A Ivy League student to a retired volunteer in an animal shelter. He believes the mug shot industry is exploitative and has laid down a route by which it should be stopped.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Morgan Vasigh. Smile, you are under arrest: the misappropriation and misuse of mug shots online. Information & Communications Technology Law, 2013; 22 (3): 277 DOI: 10.1080/13600834.2013.855064

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Mug shot misuse on internet: How to end exploitation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210091242.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2013, December 10). Mug shot misuse on internet: How to end exploitation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210091242.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Mug shot misuse on internet: How to end exploitation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210091242.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says cyber attacks that ultimately prompted Sony Pictures to scrap the release of a madcap comedy about North Korea are a "serious national security matter." Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins