Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Controversial mug shot companies may have crashed sheriff’s website

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
by FRANK MAIN

Controversial companies that vacuum mug shots from jail websites — then post them on their own websites and charge a hefty fee to remove them — might have contributed to the Cook County Sheriff’s inmate locator crashing, a sheriff’s spokesman said Tuesday.

The inmate locator serves the families and friends of nearly 12,000 people in the sheriff’s custody. The website, which is used to schedule visits, was sometimes crashing twice a week last year.

On Jan. 6, the sheriff’s office installed a “captcha” security tool on the inmate locator to prevent computer robots from gathering booking photos and other information from the website and overwhelming it.

“It was becoming an ordeal,” said Ben Breit, a spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart. “It was because these ‘bots’ were overloading our systems. We had to do something about it. Obviously we don’t want people hacking in.”

Mugshots.com, one of the companies that posts booking photos, confirmed it uses computer robots to scrape data from the sheriff’s inmate locator.

“There is still data being collected from Cook County,” said Chase Johnson, a spokesman for the company, which he said is based outside the United States.

Johnson insisted the company’s robots weren’t crashing the sheriff’s website.

Breit said Cook County computer experts were unable to determine whether mugshots.com or similar companies have been gaining access to the sheriff’s inmate locator.

“There’s a possibility that the actions of sites like these were a contributing factor, but that’s not something we can prove,” he said.

To keep the heavily used website from crashing again, the sheriff’s office installed a security system that requires visitors to type a password of distorted letters and numbers. Humans can read the characters, which are designed to confuse computer robots.

But the security system hasn’t thwarted mugshots.com from obtaining data from the sheriff’s website, Johnson said.

“Any program can be written to get around anything,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s going to be done. I’m saying this is not a great solution for them.”

On mugshots.com, visitors can search for booking photos by name — or by categories such as celebrities, sports or gangsters. They also can view booking photos in the news. On Tuesday, the site featured two NFL players’ arrests.

Mugshots.com and similar companies have a business model that infuriates those whose booking photos are posted on their websites. They charge a fee to remove some photos — and refuse to delete others.

Mugshots.com, for example, refuses to unpublish booking photos of people arrested for a violent felony — even if the case is later dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty, Johnson said. The company will remove other types of photos, such as those for nonviolent misdemeanors, for a fee, he said.

Johnson said mugshots.com provides a valuable service by allowing people to check out the backgrounds of others they might want to date or go into business with.

But in January, Pinellas County, Fla., Sheriff Bob Gualtieri reacted to the mugshot industry by taking booking photos off his “Who’s in Jail” site. He cited mugshots.com, justmugshots.com and arrests.org as the basis for his decision.

“After visiting mugshots.com myself I saw that citizens were being charged anywhere from $399 to $1,700 to remove their booking photos from just that one site [and] I decided that it is more than a rip-off — it is extortion,” Gualtieri said in a statement.

Dart will continue to post mug shots because “we have to have a certain measure of transparency,” Breit said. The photos are removed from the inmate locator whenever a detainee leaves the sheriff’s custody, he said.



Recent Headlines

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

EXPERIENCE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE FOREST PRESERVES THROUGHOUT WINTER
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Jail detainee dies at Stroger Hospital
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office Says Its Gang Database Is on Lockdown, but Questions Remain
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Pro Publica

Charges dismissed against man accused of threatening judge
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Daily Herald

Double Down: Twin Brothers Rehabbing Chicago
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Defender

Slowik: Residents, officials celebrate rehab work at public housing sites
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Daily Southtown

Class action: Evanston can't charge 'convenience fees' to people paying tickets online
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Cook County Rercord

390 arrested in nationwide prostitution sting, including 38 in Cook County
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

As we build a road, we will protect the forest preserves
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Campaign to weed out European buckthorn across the suburbs
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Northwest Herald

Airbnb hosts in Cook County earned $109 million last year: report
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County senior exemption deadline extended
Monday, February 04, 2019
Daily Herald

Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: Protect iconic forest preserve from concrete overkill
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP