Beginning in January 2014, it will be an unlawful trade practice in Oregon for website owners to fail to remove an individual’s mugshot and accompanying information if the arrest eventually resulted in an acquittal or dismissal of the charges, or following an expunction of the conviction. The new law also requires the website owners do this at no cost once they receive a written request by any person that meets the criteria.
“Mugshot websites” – the type that simply pull data from public arrest records and collect and display mugshots of every individual in a certain city or county – have come under national scrutiny recently following an article by the New York Times. The article, along with countless others, has drawn attention to a serious problem that is unfortunately not unique to Oregon. In short, a person who gets arrested may find themselves on these websites, even long after the charge is dismissed. Furthermore, when they try to remove the mugshot, they are asked to pay fees to have the information removed. And even worse, paying fees to these websites does not always guarantee the information will be removed.
Georgia has passed a similar law, and even Google has lent a hand by changing its search algorithm to keep mugshot websites results from displaying in the top results. HB 3467 is no doubt just the beginning, but it is a good start to ensure that those who have been wrongfully arrested, otherwise acquitted, or have had their records expunged will not have the added worry of popping up in search results when a prospective employer Google’s their name.