Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to curb the public release of mug shots, as well as booking information detailing what people were picked up for, unless there's a reasonable law enforcement reason to do so.

Cuomo included the proposal to not release mug shots in his State of the State address budget proposal last month. In it, he cited the "Internet shaming industry"—meaning websites such as Mugshots.com that put up people's respective mug shots, and agree to take them down for a price—as a driver of the proposal.

“This social justice proposal will help to curtail a nefarious practice that is tantamount to extortion of formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as innocent people," Cuomo spokesman Tyrone Stevens told Gothamist in a statement. "The digital age and proliferation of mugshot websites have created an internet shaming industry, and it has lasting effects on the individuals portrayed, including those whose arrests do not result in conviction. An idle internet search can yield booking photos that indefinitely damage an individual’s employment and personal prospects."

The move would amend New York's Freedom of Information Law, which currently allows people, including journalists, to comb through accessible public records—such as mug shots and arrest information. "To be clear: The public and media will still be able to access records and photos, as local law enforcement will continue to decide if there is a need to release photos and all court records are public records," Stevens continues. "To the extent any modifications are necessary to provide additional clarity, we plan to discuss and engage with the Legislature during the next few months.”

Opponents of Cuomo's measure say that it would give police departments the outsized ability to selectively report certain arrests over others, and that people deserve to know who is arrested, and why. Last month, the New York State Sheriff's Association called out the measure in an interview with WNYT, dubbing it "poppycock" that could potentially lead to "secret arrests."

In a late January interview on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Cuomo responded to criticism about the measure, saying that he "understand the tension" and wasn't against considering other ideas that could solve the growing issue of mug shot websites, which he called "a clear abuse." "So how do you protect that right not to be extorted by a private company but respect the public's right to know?" he said.

Last year, four people thought to be behind Mugshots.com, one of the most visible websites in the industry, were arrested in south Florida on extortion and identity theft charges. Without payment, sites like Mugshots.com refuse to take down individual mug shots, regardless of clerical errors or if charges were dismissed. In recent years, states have increasingly been enacting legislation banning mugshot sites, in an effort to combat an industry rife with fraud, as prosectors in the Mugshots case put it.

In New York City, police departments have been known to show victims or witnesses scores of mug shots to aid in investigations. A recent NY Times investigation found that police departments of other major U.S. cities don't ask people to sift through mug shots early on in investigations, as it runs the risk of resulting in false identifications. As the Associated Press notes, Cuomo's proposal would only impact state police agencies, while local officials would still be able to decide whether or not to release them.

An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist over email that the NYPD doesn't release mug shots of anyone arrested in New York City.