Branded by a mugshot in the digital age

In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced charges against four out-of-state defendants for alleged extortion, money laundering and identity theft. The individuals in question—Sahar Sarid, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, Thomas Keesee and David Usdan—are owner-operators of, which mines police department websites for booking photos, names and charges, then reposts the information and charges victims exorbitant fees to take it down.

Such information is easily up for grabs. Mugshots are taken upon arrest, not conviction, and from that point forward the details of the arrest become a matter of public record. An unflattering photo taken during one of the lowest moments of a person’s life may then appear in newspapers, on TV or on social media to be seen by friends, family and coworkers.

In the digital era, the photo can circulate forever, effectively preventing the individual from turning a new leaf and finding a job or housing. It doesn’t matter whether police drop the charges or made the arrest erroneously. It doesn’t matter whether the arrest leads to a conviction

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