Maui News

Legislature Approves Bill for Emergency Release of Cell Records

April 18, 2012, 1:31 PM HST
* Updated April 18, 1:39 PM
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File Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Lawmakers approved a bill that will require cell phone or communication service providers to assist law enforcement agencies in determining the location of a cell phone in emergency situations.

The measure now advances to the governor’s desk after it passed on final reading in the state Senate this week.

Under the legislation, the measure would improve capability of public safety agencies to obtain vital information from cell phone providers, when time is a factor in responding to an emergency.  The measure is aimed at preventing death or serious bodily injury in extreme situations.

“This is a major public safety measure for this session, especially when it comes to a matter of life or death,” said Senator Will Espero, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Government Affairs and Military Affairs.

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The bill was coined the Kelsey’s Law after, 18-year-old Kesley Smith of Kansas, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 2007.

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Police detectives reportedly found her body because a cell phone ping identified the area Smith was kidnapped, and as a result, a number of search areas were determined.

Supporters of the legislation say they believe that if the wireless company had turned over cell phone records on the day Smith was kidnapped, rather than sticking to its privacy policy, Smith may be alive today.

“We want to prevent an incident similar to what happened to Kelsey Smith from happening here. Safeguards are in place to make certain the law is not abused,” said Sen. Espero.

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