Jim Baron reports:
Legislation billed as another police tool to prevent and pursue Internet child pornography, but that privacy and civil liberties advocates worry will cast too wide a net for less serious crimes, passed the House of Representatives 62-6 on Thursday.
The bill would allow the attorney general, local police chiefs, and other designated law enforcement officials to issue an “administrative subpoena” that would require an Internet service provider to disclose the name and address associated with a subscriber of that provider.
Proponents said this would merely expedite the investigation process and allow police to learn the identity of a suspect in a cybercrime-related case. They say it would simply give the police the name and address of a suspect, it would not allow them to conduct a search or seize any computer equipment or other materials.
Advocates for the bill says such administrative subpoenas are generally complied with quickly by an Internet service company in contrast to a warrant issued by a judge which the company will often route through its legal department causing sometimes lengthy delays.
In a news release, ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said, “police will be able to easily obtain, just by signing a piece of paper, the name and address of any blogger, Facebook poster, etc. who is alleged to have said something that they consider to potentially be criminal ‘harassment’ or ‘bullying.’”
Brown said, “The ACLU has opposed this “administrative subpoena” legislation for many years (believing that court approval should be necessary to issue these types of subpoenas), but in previous years, it had at least been limited to allowing police to gain Internet subscriber information only about individuals alleged to be involved in child pornography.
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