It’s 2018 and the war wagged on mugshot websites by payment processors and state lawmakers in the United States is in full throttle. For the large majority of the past decade, attempts by state lawmakers, in particularly, to kill the mugshot industry have been relentless.
State Attempts to Shut Down Mugshot Websites
Since 2013, 18 states have jumped on board as state lawmakers have pushed bills to restrict websites that publish arrest photos, commonly referred to as mugshot websites, from charging a fee for the removal of public arrest records and booking photos. The latest state to enact legislation banning paid removal of arrest records by mugshot websites is Ohio, which in early 2018 enacted Revised Code section 2927.22(B) which states that:
“No person engaged in publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information (i.e., a booking photograph or the name, address, charges filed, or description of a subject individual who is asserted or implied to have engaged in illegal conduct) through a print or electronic medium shall negligently solicit or accept from a subject individual the payment of a fee or other consideration to remove, correct, modify, or refrain from publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information”.
Mugshot Removal Laws: States Banning Mugshot Website Removal Fees
The table below summarizes laws that have been passed by U.S. states in an attempt to prevent mugshot websites from profiting from charging a fee to remove arrest data and mugshot photos obtained from public record, which is viewed by many as predatory behavior that is borderline extortion.
18 U.S. Sates prohibit mugshot websites from charging a fee to remove arrest photos
Cal. Civil Code § 1798.91.1
Prohibits a person who publishes a booking photograph via electronic means from soliciting, requiring, or accepting a fee to remove, correct, or modify that information.
|Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-305.5|
Declares that criminal justice records shall not be used by any person for the purpose of soliciting business for financial gain; prohibits a person from obtaining a copy of a booking photograph if he or she knows: (1) the booking photograph will be posted to a website; and (2) removal of the booking photograph from the website will require the payment of a fee.
|Ga. Code Ann. § 10-1-393.5|
Requires a person who publishes arrest booking photographs on a website to remove an individual’s photograph within 30 days of the date of request, without charging a fee, if the individual meets certain requirements (e.g., acquitted or case dismissed.)
|5 Ill. Comp Stat. § 505/2QQQ|
Prohibits a person who publishes criminal record information through an electronic medium to solicit or accept the payment of a fee to remove the criminal record information.
|Ky. Rev. Stat. § 61.8746||Prohibits a person from utilizing a booking photograph for commercial purposes if (1) the photograph will be placed in a publication or posted on a website; and (2) the removal of the|
photograph from the publication or website requires the payment of a fee. Any person who requests removal of a booking photograph and is required to pay a fee has a right of action.
|Maryland||Md. Code, Com. Law § 14-1324|
Prohibits a website operator from charging an individual for the removal of the individual’s photograph or digital image taken during the arrest or detention of the individual, if the record was expunged, vacated, or shielded from public inspection.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.1150.1
Prohibits a person engaged in publishing criminal record information through an electronic medium from soliciting or accepting a fee to remove or correct the criminal record information.
Requires a person who disseminates photographic records of arrested individuals on a website to remove the photograph within 30 days of the date of request, without charging a fee, if the arrest resulted in acquittal or no conviction, or was reduced to a violation, or the conviction was expunged or set aside.
S.C. Code § 17-1-60
|Prohibits a person from requiring the payment of a fee to remove, revise, or refrain from posting to a website the arrest and booking records, including booking photographs, of a person who is arrested and booked in South Carolina.||2016|
|Tex. Bus. & Com. Code §§ 109.001 - 109.007|
Prohibits a business from charging a fee to remove, correct, or modify incomplete or inaccurate criminal record information; provides a civil penalty for violations of law.
|Utah||Utah Code § 17-22-30|
Requires that a person requesting a booking photograph submit a statement affirming that the booking photograph will not be posted to a website that requires the payment of a fee to remove the booking photograph from the website; provides that a person who submits a false statement regarding use of a booking photograph is subject to criminal liability.
|Vermont||Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, § 4191||Prohibits a person who posts a booking photograph on the internet from soliciting or accepting a fee to remove the booking photograph if requested by the depicted person.||2015|
|Virginia||Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-40.3||Declares that a person who publishes a criminal history record and then solicits money for removing that record shall be liable to the affected individual for actual damages or $500, whichever is greater, in addition to reasonable attorney fees.||2015|
|Wyoming||Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 40-12-601||Requires a person who disseminates photographic records of arrested individuals on a website to remove the photograph within 30 days of the date of request, without charging a fee, if the charges stemming from the arrest for which the photograph was made were resolved without a conviction, or were expunged or set aside.||2013|
States that “No person engaged in publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information (i.e., a booking photograph or the name, address, charges filed, or description of a subject individual who is asserted or implied to have engaged in illegal conduct) through a print or electronic medium shall negligently solicit or accept from a subject individual the payment of a fee or other consideration to remove, correct, modify, or refrain from publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information”.
Other Woes in the Mugshot Publication Industry
State lawmakers have not been the only one’s taking up arms against mugshot websites in an attempt to end the profiteering from paid removals that’s been a hot topic of debate since these sites started popping up. Other attempts to shut down the mugshot industry have been made by entities including Google, which released a search engine algorithm update know as the Mugshot Algorithm Update, which was specifically designed to derank mugshot websites on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Payment processors have also clamped down on the industry by adding mugshot websites and the associated online reputation companies that offer professional removal solutions to get records off these sites as a category of high risk merchants that they refuse to process payments for, making it extremely hard for mugshot websites and mugshot removal services to accept credit cards from those seeking to remove online mugshots and arrest records..
Will Mugshot Websites Prevail?
Will all the effort and resources put into ending the mugshot industry prove fruitless? Despite all the attempts to put a permanent end to the mugshot industry, mugshot websites continue to pull arrest records and booking photos from public sources and charge individuals to remove this information. While the mugshots are not as readily visible because of the Google Mugshot Algorithm update, they can still be found on other search engines, including Bing and DuckDuckGo. Mugshot websites have started to and will continue to take use new SEO techniques and take other measures to beat the mugshot algorithm update, thereby ensuring that their websites along with the the arrest records published are indexed and highly visible on Google and other search engines.
Regardless of all the effort and resources that’s been put into shutting down mugshot publications, some argue that the industry is here to stay. While the restrictions placed on mugshot and removal websites has made it more difficult for these businesses to accept payments, the demand for the services these firms offers is still present and so long as it is. So long as there are individuals that want professional help removing arrest records from the internet, online reputation repair companies will offer solutions to remove or otherwise minimize the impact of these records online.
Hire Mugshot Removal Professionals
If your arrest record and mugshot appear online, contact us today. Regardless of whether or not mugshot websites can charge for removal, the content removal experts at Remove-Arrests.org have solutions to erase mugshots from the web and get all of your arrest information off the internet.