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2/26/2016 Rep. Ackerman bill looks to expand powers of attorney general in subpoena of internet service providers
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced legislation that would expand the powers of the attorney general and State Police to acquire information from internet service providers in cases of online crime.

The bill (2016-H 7542) would add online impersonation and electronic dissemination of indecent materials to minors to the group of offenses for which an internet service provider must provide subscriber account information to the attorney general or to the state police upon proper service and with certification that the information is necessary for an official criminal investigation or prosecution.

“This is an important bill that gives law enforcement officials access to information necessary to build a successful investigation,” said Representative Ackerman. “If we’re going to protect our children in the new age of internet communication, then we have to address the many technologies that are now available to online predators. And this legislation will give law enforcement officials the tools they need to do that job.”

The legislation would require internet service providers to disclose subscriber account information consisting of name, IP addresses and telephone numbers associated with the account upon proper service, and with certification under oath by the attorney general or State Police that the information is necessary for an officially documented criminal investigation or prosecution of criminal complaint based on probable cause.

ISP administrative subpoenas would not give law enforcement the legal authority to obtain email content. In Rhode Island and federally, a search warrant is necessary to seize email content.  The administrative subpoena would only be available for law enforcement to receive non-content basic subscriber information that identifies the subscriber’s name, address, and telephone number. 

“The General Assembly has done admirable work in enacting criminal statutes to protect those most vulnerable online.  While we now have the statutes to prosecute these perpetrators, law enforcement also needs the tools to properly investigate these crimes.  Enactment of this legislation will provide law enforcement a critical tool in the protection of Rhode Islanders, especially our children,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), and Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. 

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903