by Orlando Sentinel’s David Harris
June 19, 2017
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law Friday that will require websites that publish mug shots to take them down upon request if the person pictured is not convicted.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, also prohibits companies from collecting a fee to remove the mug shots.
But Scott declined to sign into law the most controversial portion of the bill. It would automatically have sealed nearly 3 million public records of people who were arrested but not convicted.
That provision raised eyebrows with both public records advocates and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who said the public has a right to know if someone has been arrested but not convicted of a crime — particularly a sex offense.
Bondi last month raised questions about the legislation, saying it’s important in sex-offender cases to know if someone has been charged previously.
“We all know how difficult it is to convict a sex offender,” Bondi said.
Kylie Mason, a spokeswoman for Bondi’s office, said Friday that “it is our understanding that arrest records involving violent offenders and sexual predators will remain public, and if that is the case, we are pleased.”
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, said there are many reasons why a person can be found not guilty.