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PROVIDENCE, R.I. --The Rhode Island General Assembly is considering legislation that could give police access to Internet and phone records and credit card and bank information without a warrant or other court review, civil libertarians said.
The state police said the legislation would help track down the increasing instances of Internet-based crime, including fraud and child exploitation. They say they are only seeking expanded access to Internet records, not phone or banking records.
But lawyers familiar with this area of law say the bills as crafted would give Rhode island police the right to obtain the same information that some of the nation's major communication companies have been accused of giving to the National Security Agency illegally.
PROVIDENCE -- After a barrage of criticism from civil-liberities advocates, the state police yesterday agreed to changes in legislation before the General Assembly so it clearly would not give the police the right to obtain Rhode Islanders' telephone records without a warrant.
But although the state police wanted to press on with a legislative hearing and possible committee vote today, Governor Carcieri intervened, saying he was concerned about civil liberties. By the end of the day, the House leadership put off consideration of the legislation for at least a week.
Carcieri said through a spokesman that he won't support a bill that doesn't address the concerns civil-liberties advocates have raised about the state police proposals.