Sometimes it’s as simple as asking

09 Oct

*Flash* “Turn to the left” *flash* and now your your mugshot is a public record.  Although you hoped that night you were arrested would end and be behind you, that arrest photo is a public record to be viewed by anyone, from journalists writing about famous people, to internet companies like

Everyone has seen the banner ads for companies that profit by displaying mug shots to anyone and charging fees to remove your mug shot from their websites.

And the harm: mugshot removal websites make their money by charging a fee to the photographed person to have the image taken off their website.  The rub: that’s only one of countless mug-shot removal websites. So get your mug shot off one website and it can still be on countless others, all charging you a fee to have it removed.  Salt on the wound: just because you’re arrested, doesn’t mean you’re guilty, although it arouses suspicion.  (Btw: employers generally cannot ask whether you’ve been arrested–know your rights)

Who can slay this mug shot mugging hydra? Bitter consumers.

But the point here, is not to repeat the news from The New York Times’ October 6, 2013 article “Mugged by a Mug Shot Online.” The point is to showcase the amazing effect of enlisting the powerful to your side. Even though the Times came to the story later than some.

The point is learning how to access power.

In the last paragraphs of the Times article, the reporter, David Segal, documented the New York Times’ communications with Google, Mastercard, PayPal, American Express, Discover, and Visa–marketplace powerhouses–about their business with merchant banks affiliated with mugshot companies. These powerhouses severed their relationships with the mug-shot removal services and urged merchant banks to stop doing business with the mug-shot removal “services.”

And the law has taken up armsthe government is involved in stopping cyber-bullying, and lawsuits may be brought. (to find a lawyer, contact your state’s bar association for a referral)

Stanford Law Review has discussed the right to be forgotten

as has NPR, which discussed the Argentinian law on the right to be forgotten.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask

When the writer of this blog asked New York Times reporter David Segal what led powerhouses like MasterCard to stop doing business with mug-shot websites, he said, “I just called those credit card companies and asked if they thought it was ok to do biz with these sites.  Simple as that.”  And the change in MasterCard’s behavior occurred before the story was printed.  

How to fight back: sometimes all you have to do is ask and to ask you’ve got to speak up because democracy is who shows up.

Got an issue you want to see discussed on The Bitter Consumer?

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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Reality, Uncategorized


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