There’s now only one US state where mug shots aren’t public records

13 03 2017
In a 53-14 vote that took place days ago, South Dakota’s legislative House passed legislation that makes arrest booking photos public records. The measure, which cleared the state’s Senate in January, will be signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard.

With that signature on Senate Bill 25, (PDF) South Dakota becomes the 49th state requiring mug shots to be public records. The only other state in the union where they’re not public records is Louisiana.

The South Dakota measure is certain to provide fresh material for the online mug shot business racket. These questionable sites post mug shots, often in a bid to embarrass people in hopes of getting them to pay hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed. The exposé I did on this for Wired found that some mug shot site operators had a symbiotic relationship with reputation management firms that charge for mug shot removals.


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Section 230 Protects Grindr From Harrassed User’s Claims–Herrick v. Grindr

6 03 2017

This is a well-constructed and thoughtful Section 230 ruling. If this case keeps going in the same direction, it has the potential to become a major Section 230 precedent.

Herrick claims that ex-boyfriend JC used Grindr to launch a vicious five-month e-personation attack. JC allegedly created fake dating profiles in Herrick’s name, with his contact info, saying Herrick wanted sex; with the predictable result that allegedly hundreds of horny men responded to the profiles and sought out Herrick at his home and workplace. Craigslist has been used for similar attacks for a long time, and California created an “e-personation” crime to combat them. Herrick further claims he’s contacted Grindr over 50 times about this harassment campaign and never received a response other than a form acknowledgement email.

Herrick sued Grindr in state court and got an immediate TRO instructing Grindr to “immediately disable all impersonating profiles created under Plaintiff’s name or with identifying information relating to Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s photograph, address, phone number, email account or place of work.” Grindr removed the case to federal court. The court’s opinion is in response to Herrick’s request to extend the TRO. The court denies the request.

Section 230

If you are a Section 230 fan, I encourage you to read the opinion’s entire discussion about Section 230. It’s not that long, and I considered quoting the whole thing. It’s worth the read.




Because the opinion is so savvy about Section 230, I’m awarding the rare and coveted Technology & Marketing Law Blog Judge-of-the-Day honors to Judge Valerie Caproni. Congratulations, your honor. Opinions like this remind us why the US judicial system is so respected by other countries. May it always be that way.

Case citation: Herrick v. Grindr, LLC, 2017 WL 744605 (SDNY Feb. 24, 2017). Complaint.


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If you’re a revenge porn victim, consider this free, helpful legal guide

14 02 2017
Without My Consent, a San Francisco-based advocacy organization that aims to help victims of revenge porn, has released a slew of new resources this week in an attempt to make seeking justice easier for victims.

The new materials, dubbed “Something Can Be Done! Guide,” provides a step-by-step guide for victims. It provides concrete measures that they can take, including evidence preservation, copyright registration, restraining orders, and takedown requests to Internet companies—many of which don’t require the often-costly services of a lawyer. (Without My Consent’s efforts are reminiscent of Nolo, a decades-old do-it-yourself legal publisher.)

guide is here:


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Using Scraper to Harvest Records Isn’t Fraudulent Access Under CFAA–Fidlar v. LPS

18 01 2017

Fidlar works with counties to digitize and index land records. It also makes available a software client (Laredo) that allows end users to access these records. Billing is handled by the counties, and counties have monthly access plans. The counties also provide accounts (and passwords) to end users. The plans are usually time-based but include separate “print fees” so that people who print a record for off-line viewing have to pay additional fees. Fidlar’s EULA did not impose any specific restrictions on use of Laredo. As the court notes, the EULA says a user may “use . . . any portion of the software for any purpose”. [I didn’t double check this but it seems odd for a EULA to contain broadly permissive language like this.]

LPS wanted to aggregate the data underlying the county records, so it built a harvester to mimic the calls Laredo would send to the database. Using this process, while logged in using county-provided passwords, LPS downloaded a massive quantity of county records. (The precise relationship between being logged in and accessing the records is not clear factually.) It then sent these records offshore for processing and extracted the underlying data. A county alerted Fidlar to the fact that LPS was paying fees but not logging any time. It sued LPS under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and state anti-hacking law. The district court dismissed Fidlar’s claims at summary judgment. (Blog post on the district court ruling here: “Company That Facilitates Digital Access to Public Records Uses CFAA to Block Scraper”.) The district court case involved a host of issues, including alleged contractual interference by Fidlar (who contacted the counties to try to disrupt LPS’s access), defamation claims, the public records status of the data, and whether Fidlar and the counties could gate the data in this manner consistent with public records statute. These are all interesting issues in their own right, but Fidlar’s appeal only focuses on the CFAA issues.



Case citation: Fidlar Techs v. LPS Real Estate Data Solutions, Inc., No. 15-1830 (7th Cir. Jan. 21, 2016) [pdf]

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Top 10 Internet Law Developments of 2015 (Forbes Cross-Post)

16 01 2017

10) Cars as computers.

9) FTC as privacy and security enforcer.

8) High stakes copyright battles.

7) Who is an employee online?

6) The Ninth Circuit saves itself from wrecking the Internet (twice!).

5) Stronger geographic borders on the Internet.

4) Major sites crack down on offensive content.

3) Ad blocker wars.

2) Ashley Madison database breach.

1) Presidential politics and Silicon Valley as scourge and savior.


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