A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

Legislative Update

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The Supreme Court has set May 8 for oral argument on mandatory judicial retirement at age 70

Click for report in post-gazette.com

PaCapitol

Monday the House passed by 198-0 House Bill 90 which would fast track online investigations without judicial oversight.  The bill would allow law enforcement authorities to use administrative subpeonas instead of judicially approved search warrants.

Click for report in Pennsylvania Independent

Click for text of House Bill 90

From Memo dated January 3, 2013 from Representative Rick Saccone:

This bill is a specific recommendation of the Child Protection Task Force meant to equip law enforcement with the tools necessary to investigate, deter and punish those who exploit children.

As we all know, perpetrators of child sexual exploitation and abuse frequently utilize the Internet to contact a child victim, access or distribute child pornography or communicate with others for purposes of trafficking children. Investigations therefore often start with law enforcement determining where the computer which is the source of electronic communications and files connected with the crime are located. Technology permits an internet service provider or remote computer storage service to identify the “IP address” of the originating computer and records of the provider often can identify the person who subscribes to the service through that computer.

Though federal law and Pennsylvania Crime Code Section 5743 permit the use of an administrative subpoena to procure this identification information from a service provider, separate legislation must specifically authorize the issuance of an administrative subpoena. Unlike the federal government, Pennsylvania has not enacted  authorizing legislation.

As a result, today investigators in the Attorney General’s office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) must seek a court order or search warrant to get this basic non-content information.  This is time consuming and hampers their ability to efficiently and expeditiously investigate the many cases that are referred from sources such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  If the Attorney General, or a district attorney, had the authority to issue an administrative subpoena, much time would be saved, perpetrators could be identified more quickly and our children would be better protected from predators.

To remedy this problem, I plan to introduce legislation in the very near future which would give the attorney general and district attorneys, or their designated deputies, the authority to issue an administrative subpoena to a service provider, to gain access to a subscriber or customer’s name, address, telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including temporarily assigned network address, which many be relevant to an authorized law enforcement agency.

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