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Newsom signs law regulating law enforcement's social media, including usage of mugshots

The new law forbids law enforcement agencies from posting mugshots of those accused of a nonviolent crime unless they could argue why it would have to remain online.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference about the newly reopened Highway 1 at Rat Creek near Big Sur, Calif. Organizers of the recall effort against Gov. Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The California secretary of state’s office announced Monday, April 26, 2021 that more than 1.6 million signatures had been verified, about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first-term Democrat. (AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new law prohibiting law enforcement agencies from posting mug shots of someone accused of a non-violent crime on social media was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.

According to AB 1475, law enforcement agencies will have to remove booking photos of someone accused of a non-violent crime unless they could provide a compelling argument of why it would have to remain online. 

Those charged with a violent crime could request for the photo to be removed if they were ultimately not charged, a jury found the person not guilty of the crimes or if the charges were dismissed. The new law doesn't stop law enforcement agencies from sharing mugshots with the public upon request.

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, the bill's author, said in the assembly floor analysis those on the internet might rush to judgment without waiting for a conviction.

"This practice causes great personal harm if a mug shot is shared with employers, clients, family members or friends — and these posts can follow a person for life," Low said.

The assembly floor analysis cited the California Public Defenders Association's argument that AB-1475 would reduce implicit bias and protect those found not guilty from consequences such as loss of employment. 

"This bill will help free innocent individuals from fear that a simple website search will dredge up inaccurate past information that will destroy their employment opportunities," the California Public Defenders Association statement reads.   

The assembly floor analysis didn't provide arguments against the new law.

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