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Mugged By A Mug Shot Online

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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/business/mugged-by-a-mug-shot-online.html?ref=business&_r=0

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At least in the eyes of the law. In the eyes of anyone who searches for Mr. Birnbaum online, the taint could last a very long time. That’s because the mug shot from his arrest is posted on a handful of for-profit Web sites, with names like Mugshots, BustedMugshots and JustMugshots. These companies routinely show up high in Google searches; a week ago, the top four results for “Maxwell Birnbaum” were mug-shot sites.

The ostensible point of these sites is to give the public a quick way to glean the unsavory history of a neighbor, a potential date or anyone else. That sounds civic-minded, until you consider one way most of these sites make money: by charging a fee to remove the image. That fee can be anywhere from $30 to $400, or even higher. Pay up, in other words, and the picture is deleted, at least from the site that was paid.

To Mr. Birnbaum, and millions of other Americans now captured on one or more of these sites, this sounds like extortion. Mug shots are merely artifacts of an arrest, not proof of a conviction, and many people whose images are now on display were never found guilty, or the charges against them were dropped. But these pictures can cause serious reputational damage, as Mr. Birnbaum learned in his sophomore year, when he applied to be an intern for a state representative in Austin. Mr. Birnbaum heard about the job through a friend.

“The assistant to this state rep called my friend back and said, ‘We’d like to hire him, but we Google every potential employee, and the first thing that came up when we searched for Maxwell was a mug shot for a drug arrest,’ ” Mr. Birnbaum said. “I know what I did was wrong, and I understand the punishment,” he continued. “But these Web sites are punishing me, and because I don’t have the money it would take to get my photo off them all, there is nothing I can do about it.”

A very profitable idea, I wonder if someone pays up the mugshot then appears on the other sites? It certainly could cost you a few thousand dollars to have it removed from them all.

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Well, it contrasts with the way the police in the UK refuse to release details of people arrested. You don't get "the perp walk" or the mugshot - and generally the police are VERY CAGEY about the ethnic background of the people arrested - to avoid letting the public know that our fabulous diversity is destroying the fabric of society - so all we get here is "a 27 year old man is helping police with their enquiries". I want mugshots here too.

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Given about 3,000,000 yanks are in some type of incarceration at a specific point in time, and thus presumably far more have been incarcerated at some point in their lives, and even more have been arrested but not convicted, I cant see that it will have much impact on his reputation. Probably over half of young US males have been arrested at some point.

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