Utah A.G. may gain broader power to demand Internet, cell-phone records

Published February 23, 2010 12:50 am
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A proposal that would broaden the power of the Attorney General's Office to demand Internet and cell phone companies turn over information about customers won broad approval Tuesday from a Utah House committee.

HB150, sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, would grant prosecutors the ability to obtain an administrative subpoena, compelling Internet and phone companies to turn over the names, addresses, phone numbers, and bank information of customers using an Internet address or cell phone number at a given time.

No judge would have to review the information. Representatives from the Attorney General's Office say it is intended to develop an initial lead when investigating a crime.

Last year, the Legislature granted prosecutors e subpoena power when they suspect a child-sex crime has been committed. Since the bill took effect, more than 200 such subpoenas have been issued, or slightly more than one a day.

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.

"If we charge our law-enforcement folks with trying to protect us and trying to catch these people," Daw said, "we need to always be trying to review the capabilities these criminals have and the tools technology gives to them and make sure we have adequate tools in place."

This time, the committee approved the bill 10-1, sending it to the full House.

"I was uncomfortable with how far we were going before," said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns. "But we don't have any choice but to address the fact that we have new tools being used for new crimes."

gehrke@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">gehrke@sltrib.com

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