Busted! Mug Shot Websites Feeling the Heat

Web sites make money by charging fees to have mug shots removed.
3:00 | 12/19/13

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Transcript for Busted! Mug Shot Websites Feeling the Heat
For the people whose faces are splashed across these web pages it can be embarrassing stick with Tyson and downright depressing. And we're not just talking about the jailhouse photos of celebrities the real money these cases with real people. No one's meant to be in jail so I say that I was a spouse abuse no one has. It was really. Turning point in my life my lowest point in my life. Michael Needham admits he's not a perfect young man by any means but says this mug shot from his deal -- arrest in Georgia. It's now available with every Internet search of his name. Stuff follows you forever and it feels like I'm a little station big -- and its artists like these mug shot companies I don't know -- to -- to to try to make. -- -- -- -- The former ROTC cadet says that god is forgiving but the web -- that publishes photos are not. Today he runs a moving business and says he fears he'll never escape his past it's ridiculous to have one small chapter of your life. Affect the entire life. We found dozens of mug shot website still running strong. And most states -- work -- perfectly legal. They stand behind sunshine law that allowed them to legally download booking photos and other open records from police web site. Sometimes the very second those files are released want to Dallas worked for the Fulton County sheriff in Georgia and is now a magistrate court judge but. We all know what's wrong fundamentally we know what's wrong but in -- country that. Just gives people the access to information. In an age where information is available so quickly how do you stop its. And here's where critics say the web sites take it too far. Many of them still make their money by charging the people and these photos hundreds of dollars to take the pictures down. -- Andy McMahon a computer technician in Atlanta says in his case he paid 75 dollars to take down an old booking photo from a -- He says he hasn't had a drink in several years and now he's a family man with two kids and after an attempted down -- -- sort of popping up everywhere kind of like whack a ball. You know you you hit one down -- pop -- other places. Sophia on to Roddy says she's innocent in a court agrees. -- thank you can't -- would your life. I mean everybody goes to Google and Allen and just to see who you are I'm not a criminal I'm not Hartford anything. She says she was the victim -- felt violated by mug shot web sites an arm. That legally publish the booking photos from what she says was a false arrest from a domestic dispute it was all later cleared from her record. Just -- how about on line is just a constant reminder off my nightmare. When she asked just one of these sites to keeper photos -- they said yes but she'd have to pay 399. Dollars and she refused. All they want is money to take the pictures down is not just that I take my photograph Don on this site it comes on this -- and it pops up somewhere else. Over and over and over again so when -- when does it stop. We found several pages like Tampa criminals dot com and explain how they still charge to remove booking photos even if the person in the picture was cleared. Question I was found not guilty or had my record expunged W removed by mug shot for free their answer no question how do you sleep that night. Their answer just like you win a bed cuddling with the freedom of speech an American flag in the king James Bible. We went looking for a voice from the mug shot website industry but found that contact information on the -- often led. Nowhere. So you're just a businessman. And this scenario. -- a businessman and an advocate we did find this man in Louisiana. Who asked to remain in shadow think of how many people have been arrested. Now put -- small service -- On data -- of people and you can see why the industry is sort of taken off he told us to call and TJ says he's just a middleman. Hired by thousands of Americans each year desperate to get their booking photos taken down. On his web site that offers reputation repair he charges up to thirteen hundred dollars for services. And he swears that he's not in bed with the owners of these sites is this a dirty business that -- I don't consider -- dirty what I do. What I do is help people. -- you're basically doing is saying if you if you don't pay me. I'm warrants and leave is damaging. Photo of you out on the Internet. When we first told the story earlier this year Georgia lawmaker Roger Bruce was pushing the bill. That would make it a crime for web site to charge someone in Georgia to remove a mug shot photo. After our report nearly every state lawmaker supported is bill and it became law at Georgia governor signing. Joining a handful of states now trying to protect residents with booking photos. If your march that is out there and you called -- they have thirty days to remove it. If they don't remove it now they are in violation of the law. The credit card companies are now helping lawmakers like Bruce in a big -- refusing to process transactions for mug shot operators and American Express says the sites were brought to our attention we conducted a detailed review and canceled as appropriate. And PayPal says they have a new policy. Account suspension. Any mug shot side that requires payment for removal. Even search engine giant Google making headlines with a new algorithm targeting -- industry. Mug -- web sites now -- far down the list average search results. The web sites -- though difficult. To keep track has as much as you you and other lawmakers have gone after them have put a dent in some of their business they're still run. Why we can't stop people from breaking the law. We now have methods in place to enforce and to -- -- -- -- these people out of business. And two. And if they continue to break the law to prosecute. In an email we heard back from the owners of busted mug -- dot com popular site now facing a lawsuit -- more than 250000. People in Ohio accusing the company of exploiting their photos for commercial gain. Company CEO Kyle proud told us he's providing a public service. Saying that we feel that the public's right to know about local arrests and crime. Outweighs this concern. Which is one of the main reasons the public records laws have determined these records must be disclosed to the public and he told us in March that his company removes photos for free when the person shows they've been exonerated. But this is what his website says tonight and we're in the process of altering our arrest record removal policy. And are unable to remove this record at this time effective immediately we will no longer be accepting payment for any record removal. Our insider says this is the result of new loss against the industry. He says the web sites will keep rolling on without ever taking any pictures -- she was arrested today and her -- is already. On line. He says the real problem is the law and that the industry would go away if authorities stop treating booking photos like trophies. The police can stop this overnight and this is support that no one's talking about why are -- -- in the months -- of someone who simply -- traffic court Sophia on Roddy has become the face and the emotional fire in the fight against the mug shot -- she was there in Georgia the day the governor signed into law. And she started a nonprofit to help other families fighting the web sites I had to make a decision for myself. That I'm not -- let this -- beat me Michael -- -- says he's continuing his recovery. Which he says would be a lot easier if the web sites were chasing him with these photos people make mistakes. Those mistakes shouldn't hold -- back -- -- -- For Nightline I'm Steve Centanni in Atlanta.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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