What is Mugshot?
Mugshot means photograph which has head and shoulders. Mugshot is an informal term of police photograph or booking photograph is a portrait typically taken after a person is arrested. The main purpose is taking photographs is to allow law enforcements authorities to have a photographic evidence of an arrested individual to allow for identification by victims and investigators.
These photographs will have simple background, consists two photographs of which one will be side view and front view of the face of the arrested individual. Although photographing the criminals was started in 1840’s after sometime photography was invented. However the procedure was standardized by a French police officer Alphonse Bertillon in 1888.
In this era of internet, when somebody gets arrested, the police take a photograph. It is standard procedure for police conducted during the booking process. The enforcement officer may think that there are grounds for arrest.
In US, many states treat these photos as a public record and published on the website of the local police department. As part of transparency obligation of the police, it’s a generally accepted practice.
Seeing an opportunity from this, internet companies started mug shot publishing services as well as removing services in the internet.
Mug shot publishing services is an industry which publishes details of the arrested individuals by enforcement agencies in internet. They extract photographs of the arrested individuals from local police sites and start extracting from the guilty, by sending mails or threatening them.
Mug shot removal services are those services, which removes details of arrested individuals for fees which may vary $400 to $1200. Once the payment is made, they will remove the photographs and content from their website. Due to multiple archival services store the content on a periodic basis, can be retrieved at any time in the future.
It is also said Mugshot removal sites are secretly linked to Mugshot publishing services. Information will pop up in other websites even after paying extortion.
However due to severe criticism from the public, at least 12 state legislatures like Missouri, Wyoming, Georgia, and Florida in the US introduced various laws restricting Mugshot Industries.
In Missouri (MO), a legislation which recently passed restrict Mugshot industries, making it as an misdemeanor to publish police booking photos on websites and then seek money to remove them. It is considered as a crime, will attract a penalty up to $1,000 or jail term up to a year. This legislation allows people who suffer embarrassment or humiliation by the publication of this information can sue for actual and punitive damages.
In Georgia (GA), a legislation was signed by the Gov Nathan, makes the mug shot company to submit a statement stating that the image will not used on a website or in a publication that charges for a removal.
In Florida (FL), one of the counties called Pinellas County made their booking photos offline and further made a procedure asking for a request form.
Efforts were made by Google, by removing Mugshot website from Adsense, quietly and there by restricting duplication of photos thru various websites extracting money from arrested individuals.
It takes a concerted effort to sap the business of Mugshot industry through stricter legislation which imposes tough penalties and jail term who break the individual rights.