Michigan House Bill 4006 (HB 4006) of 2015, also known as the Kelsey Smith Law, would allow wireless carriers to provide law enforcement officers with location data of wireless users in emergency situations. This bill provides protection to the wireless carrier by giving civil and criminal immunity to the carrier that provides the law enforcement officer with the requested location data. The bill protects abuse by law enforcement by making it a misdemeanor offense if the law enforcement officer were to use this law for personal use or gain.
. The Kelsey Smith Law was first enacted in Kansas after Kelsey Smith was abducted outside of a local Target store in Kansas. It had taken law enforcement 4 days to receive the location data of Kelsey’s cell phone. An hour after obtaining the court order for the location data from her wireless carrier the police had located her body. Although the police officers were following the law by obtaining a subpoena, Kelsey’s life could possibly have been saved if they had received her location data earlier. Kansas adopted this law in 2009. Since then 15 other states have followed suit by enacting similar laws.
The major controversy regarding this bill is that it is seen as a violation of privacy. Michigan Campaign for Liberty is advocating against this bill and any similar bill that deals with privacy controversies. This bill, however, does not require the carrier to provide any other information to law enforcement. For example, the wireless carrier could not divulge who the user previously had called or texted and the content of any message on the phone. There should be no violations of privacy because the carrier can only provide location information in emergency situations.
Kelsey Smith laws have assisted in many emergency situations, such as helping accident victims, stroke victims, individuals who had become lost, victims of natural disasters, and stopped crimes in progress. In Kansas, the police used this law to locate a car that had been stolen with a baby inside because the mother had left her cell phone in the car. Many states argue that this is good public policy because it establishes a clear statute. There is already both federal statute and case law that permits law enforcement to request and access this information. Michigan has not experienced problems with wireless carriers refusing to provide location information. Therefore, if this bill were enacted it would clarify the rules and regulations for wireless providers and help prevent future issues, such as the ones Kelsey Smith’s parents had experienced. The Department of State Police, Melissa Smith (Kelsey Smith’s mother), Verizon Communications Inc., the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Michigan Sheriff’s Association all testified in support of this bill at the Committee on Criminal Justice meeting in January.
Representative Kurt Heise introduced HB 4006 on January 15th in the House of Representatives where it was then referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice. It is currently waiting to be voted on by the House.
"Newsroom." Newsroom. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <https://mic4l.com/news>.
"Michigan Legislature." Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(x2c0uv2r02t3ct0xrf4vval0))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2015-HB-4006>.
Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billanalysis/House/pdf/2015-HLA-4006-C1BBABBD.pdf>.