It's a hot Internet business, says the Miami Herald: Get mugshots for free from government websites, put them on your own sites and then demand money when irate people plead to have their photos removed.
The mugshot websites say they are simply providing a service that many people love to view. Critics say they are an example of how the Internet and social networking is severely reducing people's privacy. Near the epicenter of the trend is Rob Wiggen, 33, a Florida ex-con who operates Arrests.org, posting daily hundreds of new mugshots mined from law enforcement websites in Florida and four other states.
Wiggen works with intermediaries, such as Removeslander.com, charging them $9.95 to $19.90 to remove a photo with automated software. Removeslander, which boasts on its 1-800 number that it can get a photo off Florida.arrests.org within an hour, in turn charges $399 for removing a mugshot from one website, $699 for removing a photo from three websites. Parry Aftab, a New Jersey lawyer who specializes in Internet law, suggests that if mugshot publishers ask for money to remove embarrassing information, they could be accused of extortion. Wiggen was arrested in Tallahassee in 2005, accused of making counterfeit credit cards, taking numbers from the cards of customers at a Mexican restaurant where a friend was a waiter.