JUNEAU – The Alaska House Majority passed House Bill 316 (HB 316), a measure requiring telecommunications companies to immediately respond to law enforcement requests for location information of victims who are in an ongoing emergency that involves risk of death or serious physical harm. 

HB316, known as “The Kelsey Smith Act,” already has passed in 30 states, is pending in three others, and also is pending at the federal level.  On June 2, 2007, Kelsey Smith was abducted in broad daylight from a Kansas department store, then raped and murdered.  The abduction was captured on the store’s security camera, leaving little doubt of the emergency nature of the situation.  More than three days after she disappeared, authorities were able to locate Kelsey’s body after her wireless provider finally released location information from her cell phone.

The tragic abduction, rape and murder of Kelsey Smith is heartbreaking and should never happen again.  In life-or-death situations it is paramount that our law enforcement agencies have access to life-saving resources; and the fear of legal liability should never stand in the way of rescuing a victim from a life-threatening situation. 

HB316 makes certain that a law enforcement agency, not a phone company or wireless carrier, are able to determine if a loved one is in an emergency situation.  The privacy of every Alaskan is important, and this legislation strikes the appropriate balance between the ability of law enforcement to help individuals in grave danger, while also ensuring the proper checks are in place to guard against potential abuse or government overreach.

“HB316 is all about helping victims and saving lives,” said bill sponsor, Representative Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), “If one life can be saved, or one child returned safely to their loved ones, then this Act will have served Alaskans well.”