Saturday, October 05, 2013

This NYT story on mugshot removal has it all

Mugged by a Mugshot: Right of publicity claims, extortion claims, state-level attempts to deal with for-profit databases whose claims to promote the public interest are made somewhat less plausible by their willingness to pull down the pictures of those who pay, free speech arguments, and--perhaps most significant in the long run--the role of intermediaries.  Though this isn't the first story on these websites by far, when the NYT started asking questions for what's evidently a feature story, Google quickly responded that it was changing its algorithm, and MasterCard and PayPal dumped the sites.  (No word on Visa.)  I'm no fan of these websites, but I do wonder: what differentiates the intermediaries' actions here from what happened to Wikileaks?


Anonymous said...

I think the public interest in the Wikileaks revelations is much stronger than the interest here. Crimes of the state were left unpunished; crimes of these individuals have already been addressed by society.

RT said...

Anon, that's why I find the denouement so fascinating/disturbing: we've handed over enforcement to private entities, and they don't have any particular reason to serve the public interest, instead of public or government pressure. PayPal, MasterCard, and Google axed these sites--but maybe we should rely on laws to do that, if the sites don't deserve to exist.