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Utah Considers Warrantless Internet Subpoenas 234

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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  • by CubicleView ( 910143 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:20AM (#31258304) Journal
    Not that I agree with the bill, but the summary obviously left out important details.

    His amended bill limits the power to suspected felonies and two misdemeanors -- cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:26AM (#31258356)
    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.

    Under the Patriot Act, FBI agents may issue National Security Letters to obtain comprehensive financial and communications records about anyone, including people suspected of no wrongdoing and no connection to terrorists or foreign powers. To do this, the FBI merely needs to claim the information is relevant to an investigation. Anyone receiving one of these orders is prohibited by law from speaking about it to anyone else, except their attorney. The FBI issues tens of thousands of NSLs each year, most of them directed at U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

  • Re:And now (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:45AM (#31258498) Journal

    +1 insightful.

    Hopefully this legislative law will be overturned by the Utah Supreme Court, although it won't stop the practice. If the General Attorney asks a cellphone or internet company for information, they can still turn it over voluntarily. What do they care about the privacy of their customers?

    We need an amendment to our State Constitutions and eventually, our U.S. Constitution:

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects
    [including information held in third-party hands] against unreasonable searches and seizures,
    shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
    probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation [in a court of Law], and particularly
    describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:17AM (#31258844) []

    "The Sun Sentinel reported this week that a Riviera Beach law prohibiting the wearing of pants low enough to expose underwear or skin was declared unconstitutional after three young men were arrested and jailed after police spotted their boxer shorts showing above their pant waists." -- you can't give back to those men the time they spent in jail.

    "Two years ago a North Carolina court struck down as an unconstitutional infringement on liberty a 201 year old law prohibiting cohabitation by unmarried couples. From 1997-2006, there had been 36 arrests for violation of the state cohabitation law, according to USA Today." -- same.

    It only takes a few moments on your preferred search engine to fine plenty of other past examples of people who have served time for "violation" of laws which were later found to be unconstitutional.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:44AM (#31259146) Homepage Journal

    There has been a tool in most states since long before 9/11, allowing the cops to come into your house and search at any time, with or without a warrant. Your friendly local game commission dude is a member of law enforcement. He accompanies many raids, here in Arkansas. The laws regarding game are considered "special". If the game commission thinks you've poached a deer, they can come in, search your house, and find it, at gunpoint, all without a warrant. The cops want to make a drug bust? No warrant necessary. Just call the game warden, tell the warden there's some suspicion that some guy poached a deer, and, oh yeah, there may be drugs and/or guns in the house, so we'll accompany you for "protection".

    Few people seem to realize that the erosion of rights has been going on for decades, rather than just the past nine years.

  • by EL_mal0 ( 777947 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @11:53AM (#31260082)
    Agreed. The parent makes an important distinction between Utah's Capitol Hill and Utah. There's a higher concentration of crazies up at the Capitol than in the population at large.
  • by Ifandbut ( 1328775 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:49PM (#31266002)

    Bradley M. Daw
    District 60
    Party R


    Born: February 7
    Spouse: Laura
    Address: 842 E 280 S, OREM, UT 84097
    Home Phone: Work Phone: Cell Phone: 801-850-3608

    I sent him a e-mail and actually received a response. Here is the text of my e-mails and his replies with edits to remove my personal information.

    Dear Rep. Daw,

    Today I was deeply offended and appalled to see the article in The Deseret News concerning HB0150. This bill is a clear violation of a citizen's Fourth Amendment right to due process. American citizens should not be subjected to warrant-less searches, and that is exactly what HB0150 does. The law first passed last year was restricted to child-sex crimes, now you want to change it to be restricted to felonies, e-stalking and e-harassment (both are misdemeanors).

    What is next, warrant-less searches for supporters of your political opposition? Warrant-less searches of non-Mormons? Can you not see how this law can be abused and the very slippery slope you are on? I thought that republicans were suposed to be opposed to this sort of big government intrusion?

    I urge you to reconsider your support for this bill, both on a moral and constitutional grounds.

    Thank you,
    Ogden, UT


    Citizens are not being subjected to warrantless searches. Citizens aren't being searched at all. All that the subpoena can do is request a phone company or internet service provider to supply the name and address of the account owner of a phone number or IP address. The bill narrowly defines what information can be requested of the business and requires that any subpoena issued has to be put on file with the Commission for Criminal and Juvenile Justice for later review. This is no slippery slope but is, I believe, an appropriate response to anonymity afforded criminals who use the internet and cell phones to commit crime.

    Brad Daw

    Rep. Daw,

    First, I do honestly appreciate that you took the time to reply to me in such a timely manner. When I sent this e-mail I honestly did not expect it to even reach your eyes. Thank you.

    Now, I must respectfully disagree about this not being a slippery slope. First the law was restricted to one of the worst crimes possible, child-sex crimes. Now you are broadening the law to all felonies and two misdemeanors. Originally you wanted this bill to encompass all crimes. If this bill gets passed then it would be a simple matter for someone to come by next year and amend the law to broaden the it more.

    Also, I consider my personal information to be part of me. I consider obtaining this information, including bank records, without judicial review or my consent, to be a violation of my privacy.

    Thank you again for taking the time to read my e-mail and reply to me. Now, I must again urge your to reconsider your support of this bill.



    Bank records is a misreport in the Tribune. The bill allows the AG to obtain the method of payment to the provider, not bank records. Let me walk you through the safeguards that are in place.

    1. Very limited scope of what can be requested on the subpoena.
    2. At least three people in the AGs office have to sign off on it.
    3. A copy of the subpoena must be filed with CCJJ for later audit.
    4. The provider is free to refuse the subpoena at which point it would have to be ajudicated.
    5. This power has been exercised by the federal government for decades with no evidence of abuse.
    6. This power has been exercised by the federal government for decades with no constitutional challenge.
    7. This can only be used for felonies or two specific misdemeanors.
    8. If there is any hint of abuse, ISPs could complain to the legislature and the law would be repealed in one quick hurry and the AG would very well know that.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351