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Texas Lawmakers Asked To Give More Protection To Cell Phone Records

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:13 PM CDT

Protecting your privacy.  A state lawmaker wants to limit the access law enforcement agencies have to your personal cell phone information.

Melina Resio relies on her cell phone for almost everything.

"I was just watching live feed of pope announcement while texting, while tacking pictures of ducks.  It's an integral part of my life," said Resio.

And all that information can be accessed by law enforcement officers with a simple subpoena.  That concerns Matt Simpson with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

"The subpoenas that go to cell phone companies are secret," said Simpson.
According to a Congressional request made last year, cell phone companies claim they received thousands of requests per day from law enforcement agencies seeking cell phone information.  And, balancing your privacy rights is becoming a battle.

"The technology is ahead of the laws. We're trying to update the cell phone laws," added Simpson.

That is why the ALCU of Texas supports House Bill 1608.  If passed, it would require probable cause of illegal activity before cops can obtain cell phone records.  Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix believes the bill could hinder criminal investigations.

"To require probable cause on the front end of an investigation is a terrible barrier to the successful conclusion of an investigation," said Mannix.

In 2005 the Lonestar Fugitive Task Force used cell phone records to track and capture Colton Pitonyak. The UT student fled to Mexico after killing and dismembering a female friend.  He was later convicted of her murder.

"The modern technology the criminals use to communicate with other," added Mannix.
But Resio believes there's other way for police to get the evidence they need to convict a crook.

"If that causes a few people to get away that's unfortunate but more important to keep our rights at the forefront of our minds," said Resio.

House Bill 1608 is currently still be debated in the house of representatives.  If passed, it will go to the senate for a vote.  

By Alex Boyer

Web Extra: Read the bill

Texas Lawmakers Asked To Give More Protection To Cell Phone Records

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