Get a warrant
The Internet makes heinous sexual predation against children easier. But that's no reason to allow Pennsylvania law enforcers to sidestep the Fourth Amendment.
State House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, would allow police investigating online child predators to get “administrative subpoenas” from the state Attorney General's Office or district attorneys instead of having to obtain search warrants from judges. These subpoenas would force Internet service providers to turn over subscribers' names, addresses and Internet addresses.
Citing such probes' need for speed, Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association favor HB 90. And federal law allows the use of such subpoenas. But that doesn't mean Pennsylvania should make the same mistake.
Unlike judge-issued warrants that limit searches' scope to particular people and places, administrative subpoenas could be enforced outside their issuing jurisdictions — “even beyond Pennsylvania's borders,” the Pennsylvania Independent says.
Add the potential for abuse inherent in any weakening of the Fourth Amendment, and these administrative subpoenas amount to unreasonable search and seizure.
We're all for prosecuting sexual predators. But the standard of getting a warrant from a judge should remain.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Digitized medical records: They’ve become an unsecured threat
- Payments in lieu of taxes: It’s worth a try in Kittanning
- Saturday essay: Beds of surprises
- Fayette County Fair: More than rides & shows
- The Chevy Volt: Short-circuited (again)
- The Thursday wrap
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- Saturday essay: Ants with tool belts
- Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- The Moody’s downgrade: Inaction’s price