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California Bill Would Ban ‘Extortion’ By Mugshot Websites Seeking Payment To Remove Suspect Photos

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A composite image from the mugshots.com website shows a photo removal application along with suspects' mugshots. (www.mugshots.com)

A composite image from the mugshots.com website shows a photo removal application along with suspects’ mugshots. (www.mugshots.com)

BarbaraTaylor_KCBS_0001r Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor is the long time San Francisco City Hall Bureau Chief...
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SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— A bill that would ban profit-making off mugshots is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. There are at least 80 Internet companies that post mugshots and then offer to remove them for a price.

The State Legislature, which unanimously passed the bill, has sent the legislation to Governor Brown. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), calls this process “extortion”.

“It’s pure and simple extortion,” Hill said. The company serves no other purpose. That’s the only business they have is charging people to remove their mugshot.

Hill said in 2011 that over 930,000 people were arrested and their mug shots taken, but more than half were never convicted of a crime.

Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk To Make It Illegal To Extort Money For Having Mugshot Erased From Websites

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“Some of them will say ‘Well for $400 we’ll take yours off, for $200 we’ll take yours off, but for $5,000 we’ll make sure that it’s removed from all of them,’ and they can’t guarantee that and they don’t,” he said.

The sites, like mugshots.com, post pictures of celebrities and newsmakers adding a disclaimer that says the pictures are not an indication of guilt or evidence that a crime was committed.

Senator Hill says these sites hurt people who are pictured whether innocent or guilty.

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