Opinion: Right to know vs. right to privacy

martinaBy Martina Gutierrez.

When a person gets arrested, their name and picture is put on a roster allowing people in their community to know if there is someone who may be dangerous to the neighborhood. To keep people warned and informed, the ‘right-to-know’ is a good thing. But if the person is not bad or dangerous, their name still appears on this roster.

Some websites like mugshots.com put your picture beside your name when your name is Googled, and ‘right-to-know’ directly interferes with rights to privacy.

If someone Googles your name, sees a mug shot of you and the reason you got arrested, it could make a difference whether or not you get a job, an apartment, or house.

For example; I was at work and I met a young woman who had 3 children. She seemed really nice and we talked a lot. I gave her my phone number after only knowing her two days.

She called me the next day and said she and her husband were fighting, and asked me if she could stay with me until her sister from out of state came for her.

It didn’t seem like a problem at the time, so I went to pick her up. When I picked her up she was in tears. She told me what had happened. According to her, he tried to kill her.

So, after the police reports and calming her down, we headed to my house. When we got there she noticed bruises on the body of her baby and learned her husband had also abused her middle child.

I had been living in my home for only a few months at that time, so no one knew where I lived, not even my husband’s family. I felt she was safe.

Later that day, she finally felt safe after I assured her that she was, and that no one knew where I lived. We were 45 minutes away from where she and her husband lived, and we live in the middle of nowhere. I told her that she and her children should be ok.

We went ahead and went to work the next day, allowing my daughter to babysit. We got a phone call from my daughter, telling me the husband had her children. We left work immediately.

She was scared and asked me, “How can this have happened?”

We later found that he knew my name because of who my husband was, and googled me. At that time, a mug shot from the website mugshots.com had my picture with my address from a minor incident that happened a year prior.

I was very surprised to see myself on the website. To know a website like this was putting my address out there not only put her children in danger, but also my own.

This is when I feel my right to privacy was violated. Websites like mugshots.com should not be able to publish addresses for minor arrests. If I was a sex offender, or maybe a murderer, I can understand the ‘right-to-know’ is valid, but there should also be a boundary.

This does not only happen on mugshots.com, but also can happen on any website containing your personal information. People must always be aware of what they put on the Internet.

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