Lawmaker cracking down on mugshot websites

ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker is preparing to take a big step toward cracking down on websites that charge a fee to remove mugshots that they've posted.

State Rep. Roger Bruce tells Channel 2's Carl Willis that he should have a new bill drafted before the end of the month.

"I don't see this as free enterprise," said Bruce. "I see this as extortion."

Willis first talked to Bruce in May about his plans to author a bill to fight back against the websites that often post pictures of people who have never and will never be convicted of a crime.

Bruce said he met with the legislative counsel on Wednesday and is close to having the bill in hand.

He said it would make it a criminal and civil offense for a company to take public information and try to profit from it.

However, he said he has heard minor opposition questioning the constitutionality of move.

"There's a difference between you talking about what someone did -- and charging them to remove a picture from a website that's causing them damage," said Bruce.

Local IT professional Bogdan Oros said he feels helpless when he comes across his mugshot plastered all over the Internet.

"I've handled it," he said. "I've taken responsibility for it, but this information is out there."

In Oros' case it's a DUI arrest from 2010.

He fears it's damaging his reputation every minute it remains in the public eye.

He's currently employed, but worries the mugshot could hurt his chances if he needs to get a new job.

Oros said he found his mugshot on 12 different sites, all of them asking for a fee of around $100 for removal.

"One company may get you 10 times and that's just wrong," said Bruce.

He said there's not much he can do for those whose mugshots are already posted.

"The laws are not retroactive, so if we can get this put in place, then hopefully we can stop it moving forward," said Bruce.

"I already know it's probably going to be out there forever -- anything they can to do remove as much as possible will help," said Oros.

Most of the sites do have disclaimers noting the fact that everyone listed there is innocent until proven guilty.

Bruce said he will get a copy of the bill to Willis by the end of next week and introduce it in the House in January.