(KCPW News) The Utah Senate lent its support this morning to a bill giving new subpoena powers to prosecutors in child kidnapping and stalking cases. It allows them to demand the personal and financial information of suspects from Internet and telephone providers without needing a warrant. Republican Senator John Valentine, an attorney, said he opposed the bill at first, but now supports it.
“…because it is a balance between the rights of privacy, those constitutional rights that have been guaranteed by the courts, and the need to expeditiously find where your child is,” he said.
Proponents of the legislation believe prosecutors and the Attorney General need a new tool to find out who’s behind the cloak of anonymity the Internet provides. But it’s opposed by a wide variety of people, ranging from XMission President Pete Ashdown to leaders of the Sutherland Institute, who believe it’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.
Senate Minority Whip Ross Romero fears the bill could lead to abuses. As an attorney himself, he said it isn’t too much to ask for prosecutors to get a warrant.
“Otherwise, you have this whole notion of, ‘Well let me just see what I can find by reviewing certain individuals’ web sites or web information,’” said Romero. “And I would tend to agree, it may not be a Fourth Amendment violation, but it’s sure leading down the road of gathering information inappropriately.”
The bill passed on a 19-to-10 vote, garnering opposition from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It now heads to the governor for his approval.