« Courts - "The reality at the SCOTUS is that those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know. " | Main | Stage Collapse - "Stage inspections already changed" »

Monday, April 30, 2012

Law - "Mug Shot Mania: The Legal and Policy Issues Surrounding Private Websites’ Postings of Arrest Photos"

Long, interesting April 24th article from Justia by Prof. Anita Ramasastry of the University of Washington School of Law. The introduction:

Many people find themselves arrested and hauled into a police station to have their “mug shots” taken. In the past, these mug shots remained in police departments’ files. Industrious reporters might track down a particular mug shot to publish alongside a newspaper article or TV story, particularly if an alleged crime was serious or the alleged perpetrator was a celebrity. But that was the extent of the publicity.

Then, with the advent of the Internet, we began to see celebrity mug shots posted online—on sites like “the smoking gun.” Apparently, the public likes to see celebrities looking less than perfect—tired, disheveled, and down on their luck—and to find out the often embarrassing charges against them, such as driving under the influence (DUI), drug possession, or soliciting a prostitute.

But now, the mug shots of not just celebrities, but also ordinary people, can be found online, in “mug shot galleries.” The arrestees’ alleged crimes include misdemeanors such as shoplifting, as well as other, more serious offenses. The postings are the work of for-profit companies, which have made their mug-shot galleries easily searchable, retrievable, and downloadable. This new reality can create a host of headaches for the arrestee—and particularly for the person against whom charges are dropped, who is acquitted at trial, or who is otherwise exonerated.

In this article, I will examine this new commercial trend, and discuss its legal implications and some potential policy solutions. I’ll also discuss a new trend of police departments’ posting certain mug shots on Facebook—a practice that has garnered criticism.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 30, 2012 09:35 AM
Posted to General Law Related