Citing Online Publication and Privacy, Feds Exempt Mugshots From FOIA

Attention State Lawmakers and Staffers,

The United States Government has just closed a loop-hole within the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals by overturning a 1996 ruling that gave the press routine access to federal mugshots. Agreeing with previous decisions by the 10th and 11th circuit courts, a vote of 9-7 concluded that these records do not have to be released under the Federal Freedom of Information Act.PrivatePropertySign

Judge Deborah Cook writes:

“…booking photos need not be released when requested by media under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

She said the internet gives criminal defendants a “non-trivial” privacy interest in their photos, which can stay online for years, that they lacked in 1996, when photos might appear on TV or in print media and then never been seen again.

A disclosed booking photo casts a long, damaging shadow over the depicted individual,” Cook wrote. “In 1996, this court could not have known or expected that a booking photo could haunt the depicted individual for decades. Experience has taught us otherwise.”

However, attorneys representing media outlets have been fighting for access to these photos for decades and hinted at a possible appeal to the supreme court in response to the decision.

We ask that elected state officials acknowledge the clear privacy interests outlined by this court’s latest ruling and continue to introduce legislation to curb the exploitative practice of online commercial mugshot publishing.

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Help Reach A 1,000 Signatures On This Petition

Classactionactionagainstmugshotwebsites.com is asking for YOUR HELP reaching the goal of only 1,000 signatures on this online petition in opposition of mugshot website scams.  Just as soon as the 1,000 signature goal is met, classactionagainstmugshotwebsites.com will go down the list of companies advertising on mugshots.com and share this petition with all of them!  

 

Thank you for your support!

unclesammugshot

For even more info on how you can help MAKE A DIFFERENCE visit NoMugshots.com

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Another Win For Online Mugshot Scam Victims

Thanks to readers like you, the 2nd Annual Mugshot Extortion Awareness Month was an overwhelming success. If you haven’t already seen Fusion.net’s spectacular six-part investigative documentary inspecting the commercial mugshot industry then with my highest recommendation I encourage you to check it out:

In even more great news, legislation in Kentucky aimed at stopping mugshot scams successfully made its way through the state’s senate earlier this month and shortly will be placed on the Governor’s desk for autographing. This makes Kentucky the 14th state in the nation to specifically pass a law against these types of scams.

As always thank you for supporting the cause of changing the law to stop mugshot extortion.

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Mugshot Site Owner Publishes Own Booking Photograph

The commercial mugshot industry’s “2015 Trendsetter Award” goes to Busted! Mugshots’ visionary, Kyle Prall, for being the first mugshot website owner to actually publish his own booking photograph. Under Prall’s brilliant leadership, Busted! Mugshots grew from a locally sold shame rag into a nation-wide extortion scam.kylepralldwi2

Mr. Prall’s other achievements include a 2013 class-action lawsuit settlement in which he agreed to stop charging money to remove mugshots from his website.

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My Opinion: Why google should treat revenge porn and mugshot sites the same.

A few year’s back Google adjusted its search algorithm to demote mugshot sites. While that was a nice try and a great start, this company should do more like extending the same courtesy to mugshot scam victims that revenge porn site victims have to remove links from search results. Also, this company shouldn’t allow mugshot removal scams to take place on blogspot.

Preface:
Until recently, James Howard Patton of Navasota, Texas, was using google’s blogspot platform to operate a “sexy” mugshot website which surprisingly promoted a removal site that he also happened to operate. The lucky women deemed sexy enough to make an appearance on his site were tagged in such a fashion that ensured their prominent ranking in a google search query. He also took it upon himself to editorialize upon official charges brought against these women. Here’s one example:

“According to public arrest records, it seems [name remove] knows how to make a fool of herself –with a little booze.”

The irony is, of course, that this former funeral home director has a history of being very sensitive about others mentioning the salacious details of his 2009 arrest for abuse of a corpse. JamesHowardPattonTexastroll

I felt it was bullshit that someone who got busted taking naughty pictures with a non-consenting female corpse while under investigation by police for online harassment of his ex-girlfriend was trying to pull off a mugshot scam targeting women half his age –so I decided to launch a protest. In response to this protest, Patton offered to remove all mugshots from his blog site for free along with his associated removal site:JamesPattonmugshotremoval

So far, it looks like Patton has posted statements on only about a dozen websites basically expressing how strongly he disagrees with anyone interfering with his first amendment right to use public records in order to scam people. One of his criticisms towards this blog is actually not all that far off:

“I can’t seem to get it through my fuckin’ thick skull that mugshots and public records are public information”

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to contact lawmakers about the commercial misuse of mugshots.

###

I found another sketchy website the other day called ohmymugshot.com. Check out the homepage banner:ohmybanner

That crying girl is a real nice touch, but even more charming is that their disclaimer almost looks like it was actually written by a real lawyer:

The information included on this website is for entertainment and informational purposes only and is reflective of actual news reports, stories and feeds from around the world, including appropriate source links and text. The informational materials are not the creation of the site’s owner. In any legal cases concerning those charged or accused, the site owner believes in the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in a court of law. The information contained herein is not intended as a platform for offending anyone or any party involved directly or indirectly. Furthermore, it is not intended as an outlet to defame, purge or humiliate anyone or any party involved directly or indirectly. Comments left by visitors and viewers are the sole responsibility of the comment authors and in no way reflect the opinions or views of the site’s owner. The owner cannot verify the accuracy of any information provided by the reporting news sources and source links and takes no responsibility over validity of information posted in comments sections. Those leaving comments, any sites linking to this site, as well as any news sources are in no way affiliated with the site’s owner. The owner is not responsible for any information shared with another party, website or additional media outlet. This site is not compensated to present or for the presentation of any material contained herein. Mugshots appearing on this website are pulled from the governing agencies in which the photo originated. Any additional photos may be collected from a variety of “public” profiles and sources.

Conveniently, this website’s owner is nice enough to provide a few links to what I’m sure is yet another trustworthy reputation outfit called topdogpr.com. The blogger(s) at topdogpr.com keep their readers up to date about current events surrounding mugshot sites. Here is just one example of a priceless insight:

“At least, you say, the mugshot websites can no longer make any money, right?
 Well, not so fast. If you visit any of these sites, you will notice banner advertisements. When a visitor clicks on one of the ads, guess who makes a commission?

Bet the lawyers and the lawmakers didn’t see that one coming.”

confused

Now, I just don’t feel that last comment was very fair of Mr. James Howard Patton given that people in Texas have gone to an awful lot of trouble in order to stop “businessmen” like him:

Domain Name: TOPDOGPR.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1870187145_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2014-08-07 22:10:39
Creation Date: 2014-08-07 22:10:39
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-08-07 22:10:39
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: James Patton
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: xxx
Registrant City: xxx
Registrant State/Province: Texas
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: xxx
Registrant Email:xxx
Mr. Patton’s websites aren’t ranked high in the search engines yet (and please don’t visit them) but I think America is sick and tired of these same old scams. BUT if you’re STILL NOT CONVINCED that google should continue to thwart mugshot websites then CLICK HERE:

Is Former Houston Funeral Director James Howard Patton A Necrophiliac?

For more completely unrelated news, here is another blog’s take on this particular website:

JANUARY 14, 2015

Mugshot blog exploits attractive female criminals — Are you one of them?

crimescenemediasmiley

The internet is still relatively new ( only 25-years-old). So, it’s a lot like the wild west. While there are plenty of laws pertaining to use and behavior while online (depending on state/country), there are still parts of the web that are pretty much lawless — and there are also parts of the web that push the envelope when it comes to free speech and use of public records. The blog Oh My Mugshot is one of those sites that pushes that envelope, to the point that may be offensive to some people. That’s especially if you’re an attractive woman who’s ever been arrested.
The blog’s writer(s) peruse the internet several times a week to find the latest arrests — and the accompanying mugshots ordinarily shared by media reports or police departments from all over the country. They sift through these mugshots to find the most attractive women and then they search the names in Facebook and on other social media networks. From there, a profile is posted publicly onthe blog showing an attractive selfie or other photo posted to the women’s public profiles alongside their embarrassing mugshots.

The mugshot blog has been up for a year or two, and it doesn’t look like it will end any time soon. That’s because it’s somehow affiliated with a service that charges people to have their mugshots removed from the internet — which seems like quite the scam. Have you ever been arrested anywhere in the United States? Is your mugshot publicly available online through a police department or any other source? If so, you may want to search the Oh My Mugshot blog to see if you’re one of the numerous women being exploited for click money.

Mugshot Removal

Recent studies have shown that one in three people under the age of 23-years-old have been arrested, which is an astonishing number of people. USA Today reports that the arrests of young people have become rather commonplace, which is an unfortunate side effect of new policies and laws. Getting arrested when you’re young — or really any age — is not a big deal when the crimes committed aren’t serious, but unfortunately mugshots can — and do — become publicly available. They’re shared in media reports, released by police departments and even posted in public places in some situations.

Your mugshot can be used against you in many ways:

Potential employers, landlords or property managers may choose not to hire you or rent to you based on seeing your mugshot in a Google search. It’s one thing to be able to view an arrest report with your name attached to it, but mugshots ordinarily show us when we’re at our worst. That’s not a good impression to give a potential employer or someone who may rent a home to you.

Friends, family members or potential lovers may alienate you. If your mugshot is easily found online, people in your life may distance themselves from you to avoid social embarrassment.

Bullies may use the mugshot against you to embarrass you or torment you.

Worse yet, companies and individuals may use your mugshot to promote their services or advertise their businesses. Your image may be used right now without you even knowing about it. Your mugshot could also go viral and become a meme. Nobody wants that.

If your mugshot is on this blog and you want it removed, there are two ways to go about this. 

  1. If you have been cleared of the charges related to the arrest/mugshot discussed on this blog, contact Crime Scene Media with a scanned copy showing the dismissal of your case or the innocent ruling.

2.  Click here and have your mugshot removed from the internet.

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Urge Gas Stations and Liquor Stores Not To Retail Mugshot Newspapers

Somewhere around 2010 the American mugshot shame rag industry was pioneered by individuals with zero background in journalism. In order to justify shamelessly humiliating members of the community for profit on a biweekly basis, publishers must continue to market their products as “crime-fighting” “public services.”

There will always be those who will do or say anything to make a buck, but for anyone who would presume to call themselves a journalist while at the same time copycatting this ill-conceived business model is more than a disappointment –they are a disgrace to the profession. Undermining the notion of civic duty and making a mockery of due process is probably not what forefathers envisioned when they guaranteed freedom of the press in the constitution. Let’s face it, even someone who would spend money on one of those tabloids is probably aware enough to know that it is nothing more than voyeuristic garbage.

The best thing any citizen can do in order to disrupt a fledgling local mugshot mag is to speak to those who retail the publication. Going after the advertisers is a waste of time because they will just ignore you. However, the corner store where you get your coffee in the morning and know the people who work there will listen. If these shame rags rub you the wrong way, then say something about it. If you don’t want these things in your communities then speak up. Retailers refusing to stock these publications will diminish circulation and eventually drive down the value of ad space. If profit disappears so will these tabloids. Do you think these publishers are so committed to community service that they will reach into their own pockets and keep things operating? I don’t.
This memo is a few years old but outlines useful tactics for combating this form of public disservice:
www.ncjustice.org/sites/default/files/Slammer%20memo%20final.docx

And Remember Folks… “Don’t Get Arrested”

Isaac William Cornetti, Founder of The Slammer

Charges:
Date Statute Description
05-14-2015 20-138.1 DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED

 

IsaacCornettiSlammer

Photo Credit: Wake County, North Carolina

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The Value of Florida’s Exemplary Sunshine Laws and Mug Shots

For those of you who haven’t already heard, @_FloridaMan on twitter currently is the hottest thing in the evolving field of mugshot journalism. Some credit the state’s “Proud Sunshine Laws” for cultivating an environment in which this unique form of regional literature is flourishing.

The Florida press is batting a 1,000 when it comes to killing legislation aimed at mugshot sites. Another bill written this particular session dealing with the commercial mug shot industry died earlier this month joining the other six. Some may be beginning to wonder if this state is simply unequal to the task of passing a law against mugshot scams while, at the same time, preserving the enjoyment, nay, the First Amendment right of the public to make fun of and laugh at idiot criminals who look stupid in their mug shots.

Remember when the New York Times did an investigative piece on the Mugshot Racket and saw considerable changes before the darn thing was even published? –Florida media isn’t going to do anything like that so it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Perhaps, Florida should solicit bids from various online newspapers that display mug shot galleries on their homepages then hire the best programmers the state has to offer and create a government-sponsored online booking photograph database. The maintenance of this database could be financed by court-ordered “publicity” fees remitted by those arrested. The photograph will then permanently be cataloged in this database giving Florida reporters an invaluable go-to resource when doing research for “Florida man” stories. As an added bonus, this plan will undoubtedly dry up the state’s demand for mugshot removal. It’s a sure bet that sooner or later someone will to start whining about the lack of benefits this type of public shaming has had on societies throughout history. In which case, we will frankly tell them to shut up because mug shots are public records.

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Florida News Site Will “Donate” Money Earned Off Mugshot Removal

I’m pretty sure the folks over at bocanewsnow.com just played an elaborate April fool’s day prank on the reputation management industry. On April 1st, the Florida news website, bocanewsnow.com, renowned for reporting local mugshots and adding their hard-hitting two cents to these photos announced they were considering accepting money from “those charged with DUI, weapons charges, battery, and other crimes” to remove their mugshots. They also stated that an undisclosed portion of the undisclosed revenue would be donated to a local charity.

This hoax was obviously intended to bait reputation management industry pros into pitching business proposals to reporters. No legitimate journalistic endeavor would ever seriously charge money not to publish something -or for that matter- remove something already published. This little joke was way funnier than any zinger this newspaper has ever added to any mug shot photo.

It’s nice to see journalists in Boca have a sense of humor!

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Evolution From Mugshot Removal To Unpublish

Prior to mugshots.com rolling out the “unpublish” scheme of making money off people featured on their website, one would have to contact an “authorized mugshot removal vendor” to get rid of his/her mugshot. The reason the website’s business format all of the sudden changed could have been because they think the word “unpublish” sounds like a more journalistic way to hide their unethical business practices behind the First Amendment. Or, perhaps, it was simply because someone found out who all these “vendors” were. Here is a list I found of the former vendor sites that used to do business with mugshots.com:removalvendors

Before taking a closer look at only one of these former “vendor” websites found in the list above, I would like to briefly go over a couple of things:

 First off, here’s how Merriam Webster fully defines racketeer (n): one who obtains money by an illegal enterprise usually involving intimidation

 Secondly, The First Amendment doesn’t do you any good if you partake in the following activities: “fraud, libel, extortion, divulging military secrets, and incitement to imminent lawless action” 

Lesli Epstein Angel was connected to the no-longer operating removal service, mugshotbusters.com. This woman also happens to be the ex-wife of mugshots.com’s head honcho Florida attorney, Marc Gary Epstein. Mugshots.com likes to point out that they don’t “solicit” customers for removal services.  However, could it be possible that Mr. Epstein, his ex-wife, along with the other former vendors may have anticipated that people would be willing to pay them large amounts of money to have compromising photos removed from mugshots.com as well as the first page of google? It’s in the public’s best interest to remain informed about the evident connections between mugshot publishing and mugshot removal services whilst legislation concerning public records is being debated nationwide.

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Inaugural Mugshot Extortion Awareness Month

IF the Free Speech vs. Extortion controversy surrounding mugshot websites is ever going to end both sides of the debate must be equally made clear. Mugshots.com is the largest mugshot site and has been the most publicly ardent in refuting allegations of any wrongdoing. Astute First Amendment minds even find themselves unable to disagree with much of what the website has anonymously written about the necessity of mug shots being available for public inspection:

“Imagine a world with no transparency, ‘star chambers’ and citizens who are secretly dragged into investigation [never to see] the light of day again. No one sees. No one hears. No one knows. It’s hard to imagine this was all not so long ago. Russia? China? North Korea? Cuba? Or even today, Guantanamo Bay, or the CIA’s ‘black sites’? Greater openness and transparency are the foundation of strong government of the people.”

Sadly, it was the established Florida newspapers who were responsible for killing a would-be mugshot law last year. HB 265 was unable to overcome a swarm of published editorials written by nay-saying reporters touting the uncompromising importance of “the public’s right to know.”

In the interest of adding context to this ongoing public dispute being deliberated within courtrooms and legislative committee hearings, I declare March to be Mugshot Extortion Awareness Month! This month’s series of blog posts will delve into the origins and evolution of mugshots.com and hopefully give the public a more complete understanding of why critics have labeled its business model as extortion.

BACKGROUND:

Mugshots.com according to ICANN whois lookup is currently registered to an organization in Belize. It appears this organization used an Australian company, Faboulus.com, as the registrar. According to online sources, Sahar Sarid purchased the site in 2002 and it was allegedly sold to an undiclosed buyer back in 2011. His company ashantiplc.com was the DNS server for 5 years. Florida resident, Jimmy Orfield, held mugshots.com for a period of time and transferred the site’s server’s from citydirect.com to Sarid’s company ashantiplc.com.

Please visit this blog frequently to stay updated on the continuing effort to pass state laws restricting the online mugshot publishing industry.

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