Rep. Brad Daw is defending his sponsorship of a new law that expands the Attorney General's office ability to demand information on internet and cell phone customers without getting a warrant.
Daw's Republican opponent, Calvin Harper, says delegates in Orem House District 60 need to know about Daw's support of the bill, which Harper says is unconstitutional and ripe for abuse.
"This is America, still," he said. "Do we really want people, no matter who they are, going and checking up on us, getting information from our cell phone providers, our internet providers? ... I'm all about letting the police do their job, but let's play fair. Let's not spy on people, because this is so subject to abuse down the road."
Pete Ashdown, president of the internet service provider XMission and a vocal critic of Daw's HB150, sent a letter to delegates in Daw's district blasting the legislation as an invasion of privacy that violates the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches.
"I wanted the delegates who were planning to re-elect this person fully aware of my point of view on HB150 and why I thought it was unconstitutional," said Ashdown, a Democrat.
On Monday, Daw responded in a letter to delegates that included the endorsement from two top officials with the Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children task force and explained why Daw sponsored the legislation.
Daw said his bill balanced the need to enforce the law with an individual's right to privacy.
The new law allows the attorney general's investigators to obtain an administrative subpoena demanding internet providers and cell phone companies turn over customers' addresses, phone numbers, usage information and bank account numbers if law enforcement suspects an individual is using the service in a stalking or child kidnapping case.
Last year, the Legislature gave the attorney general the authority to demand that information in child sexual exploitation cases. Investigators issued about one subpoena a day since gaining the authority.
Daw said without the authority, investigators have to go to a judge or to the U.S. Attorney's office to get a subpoena for the information that "often put abducted children at grave risk," although he did not know of a specific example where that has occurred. He said he was relying on information provided by the attorney general's office.
Daw said he asked Jessica Farnsworth, the section chief for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, for an endorsement and said her colleague, ICAC chief Ken Wallentine offered his, as well. The ICAC is also planning to give Daw an award for his work on the legislation.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in an e-mail he supports his employees being involved in political campaigns and they can use their official titles, provided it is clear they do not speak for the attorney general or the office.
"My opponent is making it a major issue," Daw said. "As I talk to most people, there's some who have concerns about privacy, but it's a small handful. But that's OK. I'm happy to explain it to whoever and tell them what I did and why I did it."
Delegates in the Orem district could decide the race at the Utah County convention on Saturday or send both to a primary run-off.
Originally, Daw's bill sought to allow law enforcement to issue the warrant-free subpoenas to investigate any "criminal activity," but it was watered down after lawmakers objected to the breadth of the proposal.
The legislation was opposed by groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union on the left to the Utah Eagle Forum and The Sutherland Institute on the right.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Brad Daw Facing Pressure on HB150