Some websites appear to be ignoring a new law that requires them to remove the mug shots of individuals whose charges were later dropped or dismissed, according to the law’s lead author.
State Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston, said the new law requires private websites to remove the images free of charge whenever contacted by an individual later cleared of the charges or had them dropped. The website operator would face up to $1,000 in fines and/or two months in prison if they do not comply. He says some websites are doing so, but others are not even acknowledging that they received the requests.
Thurmond says that’s harmful because businesses will find the images while doing background checks on employees. “It’s a little bit unfair to know that you’re being judged on something that’s just not true: you were either found not guilty or it was dismissed,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “But if you’re explaining (the full story), you’re probably going to be losing.” He says many of those sites demand payment to take down a person’s mug shots.
The Charleston Post & Courier first reported the issues with the new law on Sunday.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed the law in February, not long after the House and Senate unanimously approved the requirements. Supporters have claimed the websites “extort money” in order to get the images removed.
Thurmond, who is not running for reelection, said he hopes legislators can tweak the law to better enforce those websites who do not send a “return receipt” acknowledging they got a request to take down the photo. “Usually when you see an issue, you want to resolve it,” he said. “But I’m not so sure I know how to resolve this one.”
He did suggest that individuals ask the website where they can email a check to pay for the removal, then send a removal request to that address.