The state of Georgia passed new legislation banning websites from posting mugshots on the Internet.
House Bill 150, which went into effect on August 1, 2013, makes it illegal for owners and operators of mugshot websites to continue conducting business in the state. Prior to the new bill, mugshot website owners obtained arrest and booking information from local sheriff’s departments and posted them on their websites. In order for a person to have their profile removed from one of these websites, which have names such as mugshots.com, georgia.arrests.org, and bustedmugshots.com, he or she had to pay a fee, sometimes as much as $300. If the website owner threw in the element of violence, then their policy of demanding money to remove a mugshot amounts to nothing more than extortion. However, there is no violence or threats – these websites are turning a profit off the embarrassment and humiliation of others even when their charges have been dismissed.
Posting mugshots is a vile and reprehensible way to earn a living, and according to the Governor’s Office of Constituency Services, unfair business practices. House Bill 150 is fresh on the books, yet growing more hairy by the day. There are thousands whose mugshot still remains on the Internet due to willful non-compliance of mugshots.com, claiming that it is exempt from the new law. And, to add insult to injury, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office refuses to play by the state’s rules. The AG will not take an active role in punishing those for ignoring the law. In fact, there is no acknowledgement of HB 150 prominently displayed on the AG’s website – instead, a person has to conduct a search to find a brief explanation of the law and what a citizen can do if a mugshot company refuses to remove their profile. This less than lukewarm reception of the new statute by state officials is part of the problem with HB 150. Citizens are frustrated because there is very little interest from the state (ironically) to enforce this law, and mugshot operators know this. When a citizen contacts the Attorney General’s Office to complain about mugshots.com, he or she is told to hire a private attorney.
So, for now, it is business as usual for the mugshot business in Georgia – at least for some. Sources close to Sassy have said that georgia.arrests.org is complying with the law, but only if a citizen makes a request for the removal of their mugshot. Those who have had difficulty in contacting georgia.arrests.org may reach their customer service department via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the link below to view HB 150.