Thursday, October 3, 2013

By: Onno Vocks.

In the U.S.A., a number of website owners thought they could legally defame people by posting their mugshots in a Search Engine friendly way. Perform a search using someone’s real name and their mugshot shows up on the first page, if they have one. In the U.S. that is nearly a Quarter of the population, about 72 million people. Not all police departments list their mugshots, but website owners such as Kyle G. Prall, of Busted mugshots, are working hard to change that through Freedom of Information Act requests. He’s managed to pry loose and list some 11 million, and counting, mug shots, 30% of those are from arrestees that were never, or never will be convicted of any crime according to F.B.I. Statistics.

Of course, these website owners do not list their own, or their colleagues mugshots and now a movement to stop the on-line extortion is starting to make it’s presence known.
Trouble is that a lot of these websites are hiding offshore, and local law can not be applied. However, the Countries where these websites are based are also U.N. Charter Members, meaning that they also have an obligation to enforce the Laws that they have signed on to voluntarily, or they can stop pretending that Humans have any Rights at all.

The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified to become International Law in 1976 states in article 12 that:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.

No exception for Mugshots, the Accused, or convicted Criminals, is noted. That means that the listing of mugshots, with name, charges and home address is illegal, period.

Bias against the Innocent:

If we allow the continued posting of mugshots, without also listing the findings of the Court, then the arresting Police Officer has the final say in something that is clearly the responsibility of the Courts. It also renders the Court’s verdicts useless in the eyes of the Public in only the cases where Charges were dismissed, or proven not guilty. These Folks now have to publicly prove their innocence with Court documents.

This shows significant Bias against People that were never convicted of any crime, and in my opinion forms the grounds to stop the practice of defaming people simply because they were arrested.

Fa Pee
The second reason to stop posting mugshots is that it further undermines the corrective intent and authority of the Courts, no one was ever given a life sentence for unpaid parking tickets, but through the posting of mugshots an effective life sentence is handed out. Nowadays employment and rental agencies use a Search Engine query, instead of a proper background check and will find the mugshot websites and discriminate according to what they find there. Not being able to rent housing or get employment will force/motivate at least some people to commit new crimes to make ends meet. This has the opposite of the intended effect and will continue to fill privately owned and operated Prisons at enormous cost to Society.

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I want to remind the operators of Search Engines that while they are protected under new U.S. Law, they too can be held liable outside the U.S. The search query results are subject to 2 sets of laws: the place of Origin, and the place of Destination. Their Listings are downright illegal in some Jurisdictions. The longer the Search Engines refuse to cooperate, the larger the potential damage award, the more likely that some Lawyers start to see the Money earning potential of taking Cases pro-bona. It’s just a matter of time,... duhh... money.

Demand the enactment and enforcement of just laws, or continue to enjoy life in a Gangsters Paradise.

Just a few days after I published this article the New York Times published the following article on the subject.

For all appearances it looks like the Search Engines, like Google and on-line payment services like Paypal and some of the major Credit Card Companies are working to tackle this issue.

More information on this issue can be found in the following Blogs: A comprehensive breakdown of who, what, where and how. Direct link to an excellent article written by David Kravets on this subject. Announcement of David Kravets writing another article with the latest information on this subject for

P.S. Note that I post under my real name. I may some day publish my side of the story, which has never been told.

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