Representative Brad Daw
(KCPW News) Prosecutors in Utah would be able to subpoena Internet and phone records whenever they believe a felony has been committed, under a bill passed out of a House committee this morning. Republican Representative Brad Daw, the sponsor of the measure, said they need additional tools as technology improves.
“If we charge our law enforcement folks with trying to protect us and trying to catch these people, we need to always be reviewing the capabilities that criminals have, the capabilities that technology gives to them, and make sure that we have adequate tools in place,” said Daw.
The bill was initiated at the request of the Attorney General’s office. Lawmakers were initially skeptical of the proposal, because it would have granted subpoena authority whenever any crime was suspected. But the bill was amended to require suspicion of stalking, electronic communication harassment, or any felony.
The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers still opposes the bill, however. Executive Director Kent Hart said if online and cell phone records need to be accessed, there’s already a method in place to do that.
“If there is a concern about criminal activity, we can go to a judge. That’s the process that’s in place,” said Hart. “This will expedite things for the attorney general, but why do we need it expedited? I haven’t heard of any problems.”
Prosecutors already have the authority to subpoena information from Internet Service Providers, but only if someone is suspected of a sexual offense against a minor. Under the bill, if a provider is given a person’s e-mail address or phone number, it would have to provide the user’s name, address, and payment information.