By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’ve ever had your mug shot taken, it may well be online somewhere. Can a website post your picture without your consent?
Orange County, California announced its new initiative to decrease prostitution last month. The Orange County District Attorney is asking every police department in the county to hand over photos of offenders to be posted on the DA’s website under the caption “Sex Purchasers”.
You think it’s hard explaining that arrest to your wife, how about a prospective employer or anyone who searches your name on Google.
Beyond the prosecutor’s website, there are other mug shot websites that display all mug shots unless a person pays money to take it down. Is the posting of a suspect’s mug shot without his consent legal? Does it matter if the person is never convicted?
The answer is that the law is changing, and it depends on what state you live it.
Georgia and Utah have laws that limit law enforcement’s use of websites to post mug shots, and New York is considering a similar bill. Several states like Illinois have passed laws to prevent websites from making money off mug shots that make people pay to take down their picture. Oregon passed a law requiring website operators to remove the mug shot of anyone who can prove that he was acquitted or whose record has been expunged.
Beyond that, though, a mug shot is considered a matter of public record so if your state doesn’t specifically forbid the posting of mug shots, yours could be put online. Smile!