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Utah Considers Warrantless Internet Subpoenas 234

Posted by kdawson
from the mission-creep dept.
seneces writes "The Utah State Legislature is considering a bill granting the Attorney General's Office the ability to demand customer information from Internet or cell phone companies via an administrative subpoena, with no judicial review (text of the HB150). This represents an expansion of a law passed last year, which granted that ability when 'it is suspected that a child-sex crime has been committed.' Since becoming law, last year's bill has led to more than one non-judicial request per day for subscriber information. Pete Ashdown, owner of a local ISP and 2006 candidate for the US Senate, has discussed his position and the effects of this bill."
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Utah Considers Warrantless Internet Subpoenas

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  • BB (Score:5, Interesting)

    by muckracer (1204794) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:25AM (#31258348)

    As always, Big Brother comes in small, fairly digestible steps. Note
    the progression below:

    > Last year, the Legislature granted prosecutors subpoena power
    > when they suspect a child-sex crime has been committed.

    Here it was one crime...of course the one, where it's really hard to
    say no to such a bill. Then we continue, as is not just to be
    expected but a given:

    > Daw's bill initially had sought to expand the authority to any
    > crime, but committee members balked at such broad power last
    > Friday. His amended bill limits the power to suspected felonies
    > and two misdemeanors -- cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment.

    So now it's child-sex crimes + SUSPECTED felonies + 2 misdemeanors.

    In a couple of years, give or take, it'll become standard-operating
    procedure applying at will to *everyone*. And that, ladies and
    gentlemen, is the problem with taking away basic rights from the
    people. It will always get worse, because nobody wants to lose their
    shiny new toys anymore that give you almost god-power over other's.
    Except, of course, you're in Soviet Russia. There Big Brother
    doesn't subpoena your ISP records but the actual user for, uh,
    re-education. A bit more of this stuff above and we'll be there too.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:38AM (#31258444) Homepage Journal

    Or we could just make a little list of the bill's supporters, and arrange for the local authorities to get anonymous tips that they're suspected of downloading child porn.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:53AM (#31258566) Homepage Journal

    The Patriot Act made this SOP at the federal level for anything related to a terrorism investigation. My guess is the same standard will soon apply to child porn investigations.

    The Patriot Act (which should have been named "traitorous coward act") only covers federal agencies, not any state law enforcement agencies. I don't see how this bill will stand judicial scrutiny.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:56AM (#31258602)

    I agree with H.L. Mencken when he said:
    "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

    And to the AG I say get a real warrant if you suspect someone of committing a crime. If you can't prove that to a judge move on to another case.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:39AM (#31259092) Journal
    It is, also, unfortunately the case that a lot of judicial review is of pretty shockingly low quality. "So, an unnamed 'confidential informant' says that there are drugs involved? Where do I sign! And would you prefer a 'knock and announce' or 'no knock' warrant?"

    While anybody who attempts to explicitly circumvent procedural safeguards is to be viewed with deepest suspicion, and stymied where possible, the fact that seemingly robust procedural safeguards can quietly rot away from the inside, without any especially visible outside change, is probably ultimately more dangerous.

    For instance, any attempt to use military units in policing would certainly attract notice, and probably cause considerable outrage. The fact that nominally-civilian SWAT teams, with military weapons and training, execute more than 40,000 raids a year isn't even news(except when some 'isolated incident' of their raiding the wrong house and perforating someone's unarmed grandmother makes local news).
  • by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:06AM (#31259382)

    Not that my opinion ever matters to the talking heads on tv but whenever someone uses something along the "think of the children" line (in a non-satirical way) I consider their argument lost.

    Someone should pass a law enforcing that. If you use a "think of the children" argument you lose. And you get ground glass poured in your eyes.

  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:28AM (#31259702)

    This is the same Utah that is about to pass a law stating that a woman who has a miscarriage "recklessly" is liable to a murder charge [rhrealitycheck.org]. The legislature probably relishes the idea of mandatory pregnancy testing in order to properly enforce the law...

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