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Utah lawmakers pass bill to end use of ‘administrative subpoenas’
To governor » Bill would stop controversial practice of gathering data without warrant.
First Published Mar 11 2014 09:26 am • Last Updated Mar 11 2014 10:01 pm

The House gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would end the use of controversial "administrative subpoenas," which allow investigators to gather basic Internet and phone records, including bank account numbers, without a warrant.

New Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes recently discontinued use of them by his office — the state’s biggest user of these investigative tools. It had issued well over 1,000 of them since the Legislature authorized them in 2009.

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The House voted 70-0 Tuesday to pass SB46, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature, to require all law-enforcement agencies to go to a judge and get an order to obtain the information they are seeking.

Reyes recently said in a Tribune interview that "the wholesale writing yourself a note to go after that stuff without any check is too dangerous and the potential for abuse becomes too dangerous."

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, sponsor of the bill, said that when the Legislature gave law enforcement the power to issue the subpoenas, it was touted as an emergency procedure when investigators didn’t have time to get a judge to approve a warrant, such as in the case of a kidnapping or missing child.

But Madsen said news reports have shown that’s not the case. An investigation by The Salt Lake Tribune found that, on average, 37 days lapsed between the commission of a suspected crime and the issuance of an administrative subpoena.

In one instance, nearly a year passed before the subpoena was issued. In 11 instances, the subpoenas were issued on the day of the offense.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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