A state lawmaker wants to make it illegal for companies to make people pay money to have their mugshots and other criminal justice records removed from websites, though it’s unclear how such a law would be enforced against people outside of Arizona.
House Bill 2191, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, states that mugshot website operators cannot post information about people’s criminal justice records online the purpose of soliciting business or making money, including charging fees to have information removed from websites. Violators would face fines of $100 to $500 per day, depending on how long they left the information online.
Payne’s bill states that any mugshot website operator that publishes an individual’s criminal justice record online for commercial purposes on a publicly accessible website is considered to be doing business in Arizona. But enforcement may not be that simple, given that websites can be hosted outside of the state or even in different countries, which would make it difficult to collect fines or force operators to remove offending information.
In 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra charged the operators of four mugshot websites with extortion, money laundering and identity theft for charging people to remove criminal records from their sites. Authorities in Connecticut, Florida and Pennsylvania extradited the four defendants to face criminal charges in California.
HB 2191 would not impose criminal charges on website operators accused of violating the law.
The House Committee on Public Safety will hear HB 2191 on Wednesday. Payne could not be reached for comment.
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