July 14, 2008

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today passed a resolution to support legislation that would close a loop hole in Pennsylvania’s Wiretap and Surveillance laws that jeopardizes the privacy and safety of all Pennsylvania citizens.  The law Title 18, PACS 5743 currently allows anyone to request and receive the phone records of any private or public individual.  The resolution was passed during the business meeting of the PDAA’s Annual Summer Meeting being held in Erie, Pennsylvania this week.

According to the resolution, PDAA will lobby to change the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Law, Title 18, PACS 5743 (c) (1) in order to better protect private phone records of every Pennsylvania citizen.  Under the current law a provider of electronic communication services or remote computing services may disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to a customer of the service.  There is no requirement for a subpoena or court order to obtain this private information.

“It came as a complete surprise to the Association that current law allows anyone to obtain a copy of  phone, cell phone or email records of anyone else unfettered- private or public citizen,” said Gary Dobias, President of the PDAA and District Attorney of Carbon County.  “This is an issue that puts peoples’ privacy and their safety in jeopardy.  When the private phone records of every citizen whether they are law enforcement officers, legislators, or the neighbor next door are available to anyone who asks for them, there are privacy and safety concerns that beg for a change in the law.”

The PDAA noted that there are an infinite number of scenarios where such a loop hole in the law could be abused, including cases of domestic violence, stalking, and blackmail.

“This is an issue that is a concern to everyone,” Dobias concluded.

The Association will be working with the state legislature on the issue when it comes back into session this fall.