Do mugshot websites violate the non-aggression principle?

This story is one that many people would throw in a libertarian’s face and say, “Ha! How would an anarchist society solve this,” or “How does this go with your Non-Aggression Principle”?

According to Fox News:

Jaclyn Lardie did what many do when looking for a job: she Googled her name to see what a prospective employer would find. The search results devastated her.

At the top of the page was an old photo from a night she’d rather forget — a college-era mugshot from an underage drinking bust. Lardie was never convicted and had put the incident behind her. But commercial mugshot websites pounced on her photo and published it online, demanding a fee to remove it.

“I was hugely surprised. My heart sank,” Lardie said. “I felt like I was being unfairly painted as a criminal.”

With no options, she paid the fee, only to see her mugshot pop up on another site. That’s when she realized she couldn’t win this battle. Profiting from shame is the business model for mugshot websites.

Several quick thoughts on this.

  • Reputations are not a person’s property. As Walter Block has pointed out, your reputation is what people think of you. You have do not own their opinion of you.
  • However, in an anarchist society, police would be entirely privatized. Records of a mere arrest would not be public record, nor would the mugshot. They could only arrest you if you committed a crime against another person, which brings me to my next point.
  • In an anarchist society there would be no drinking age. It is currently a victimless crime (this is not talking about DUIs), and the State has no business telling people how old they must be to in order to do such and such. It makes no sense to give an 18-year-old the power to blow people up 10,000 miles away in foreign countries and get medals for it but then arrest him for drinking at 20 in an attempt to forget his actions.

In short, in an anarchist society such a business would not exist because the very thing necessary for it to exist is gone. It is only because the State allows public access to arrest records when either no charges were made or no conviction was found that they can engage in this behavior. The only way these business can operate is due to the State collecting photographs and making them available to the public.

Problem solved. Get rid of the State.

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