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Bill would ban mugshot websites from charging for removal

By: - February 12, 2019 4:37 pm

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis | Flickr/CC BY 2.0

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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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

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