Earlier this year the legal blogosphere saw a disturbing act, when First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza was the subject of abuse. A woman, that he declined to represent, bought URLs with his name, and those of his wife and child, and sought to destroy his Google reputation with her search engine friendly rantings. Then she offered to pull the postings down for a fee.
Bloggers ripped her up, down and sideways for her conduct, amid claims that this was extortion.
But she is not alone, it appears, in this type of racket. Enter, stage right, Kyle Prall, from Travis County Texas.
Kyle Prall doesn’t dwell in the sewer of creating content and then pretending to be in the “reputation management” business of offering it to be removed, but he is darned close.
His modus operandi is to get mug shots from those that are arrested, put them on the BustedMugshots.com, and index them with the name, town and state of the arrest. In other words, in a very SEO-friendly manner to make sure that anyone Googling the person’s name will find the picture.
Never mind that a mug shot isn’t a conviction of anything. You really think he cares? This is about reputation destruction.
Then he offers to remove the information for a fee. Reputation management, at your service. So what if he played a huge part in destroying that reputation?
From Reuters today comes the story and the, ahem, fees, for having him help you recover your internet reputation by taking down the mug shot and arrest information that he put up. The subject is Janet LaBarba, one of Kyle Prall’s victims:
LaBarba paid what the site describes as “nominal” fees – $68 per photo for service within 10 business days, $108 within 24 hours – to make the photos disappear. An Internet search of her name now leads to genial photos of LaBarba pictured with lots of friends.
More importantly, perhaps, I wonder what Kyle Prall tells his family and friends what he does for a living. Does he tell them that he deliberately tries to hurt others so that he hopes to profit from the pain he induces?
When the book of his life is ultimately written, what will he say that he did for society? Who did he help? What did he create? What is his legacy?
What will his tombstone say?
- The ‘Mugshot Racket’: Paying to Keep Public Records Less Public (October 11, 2011, Citizen Media Law Project)
- An Ugly Business (Fort Worth Weekly)