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Mugshots to be withheld as part of state budget

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers backtracked Sunday on a measure to allow police to keep arrest information from the public, instead rolling it back to ensure it only applies to mugshots.

Since January, Cuomo has been pushing legislation to fight back against unscrupulous websites that post arrest photos of people across the nation only to demand payment to take them down.

But Cuomo's original proposal, which legislative leaders had agreed to approve earlier this week, went further than just mugshots, instead allowing police to withhold all "law-enforcement booking information," which could have included even the names of people arrested and what they were charged with.

On Sunday, Cuomo and Democratic lawmakers agreed to scale the measure back amid a wave of criticism from civil liberties advocates and news organizations, who argued it would have allowed police to keep arrests private.

Now, the measure — which lawmakers are expected to pass as part of the budget late Sunday — will apply specifically to "arrest or booking photographs," with police still able to release them publicly if they serve a "specific law-enforcement purpose."

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