The Kelsey Smith Act mandates cell phone carriers to release locational information of their subscribers to law enforcement officials in emergency situations in the absence of a warrant. Further, the Act releases said carriers from liability when the aforementioned requests are made. Currently, nine states have enacted the Kelsey Smith Act. Prior to the existence of the Act, the carriers were required to make a good faith assessment of the emergency as well as the subsequent request by law enforcement officials. The Kelsey Smith Act is an attempt to create a more efficient means of accommodating the operational needs of law enforcement in times of emergency without improperly infringing on individuals’ privacy rights.
This Comment aims to analyze the implications associated with the enacted legislation of the states that have adopted versions of the Kelsey Smith Act. More specifically, this Comment will examine whether privacy concerns are proper in light of the Act or whether they are without merit. In doing so, this Comment will provide relevant historical and background information associated with electronic communication; an examination of the most recent arguments disfavoring the Act; and a discussion of whether the operational needs of law enforcement have been properly balanced with cell phone service subscribers’ individual privacy rights as provided by the United States Constitution.
Maxwell B. Brown,
Kelsey Smith Act: An Analysis of the Warrantless Seizure of Cell Phone Locational Information in Emergency Situations,
Tex. A&M L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/lawreview/vol1/iss3/8