By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
he IACP recently testified at a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security titled “Data Retention as a Tool for Investigating Internet Child Pornography and Other Internet Crimes.” Testifying on behalf of the IACP was John Douglass, chair of the IACP’s Mid-Sized Cities Section and chief of police, Overland Park, Kansas.
In his testimony, Chief Douglass stressed the importance of data retention and preservation, saying, “When criminals access the Internet through an ISP (or Internet service provider) and send text messages, e-mails, and other data, it creates important records and other information. In every case where criminal or civil action is envisioned, there is a clear need to preserve third-party logs and business records related to connections which specifically demonstrate that a suspect’s service provider is connecting with a victim’s service provider or through another infrastructure en route.”
Chief Douglass went on to discuss the challenges law enforcement faces regarding timing of preservation requests and, thus, the critical need for an across-the-board, standardized time requirement for data retention.
For more information on the hearing, visit http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_01252011.html.
IACP Continues to Push for D-Block Legislation
The IACP recently announced support for the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S. 28), sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). This legislation would provide law enforcement and other public safety agencies with an additional 10 MHz of spectrum that is necessary to support a national, interoperable, wireless broadband network that will help law enforcement to fulfill its mission of protecting lives in communities throughout the United States.
“This legislation is absolutely essential to public safety,” said Mark Marshall, IACP president and chief of police in Smithfield, Virginia. “Senator Rockefeller’s bill begins to deliver the baseline foundation of sufficient radio spectrum and federal funding so that our nation can finally realize a nationwide, interoperable, and mission critical–grade public safety broadband network.”
The introduction of S. 28 follows steps taken by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), who introduced the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2010; and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who introduced the First Responders Protection Act of 2010, both during the last congressional session. Senator Rockefeller also introduced similar legislation during the last congressional session.
In early February, the IACP also participated in three days of meetings on Capitol Hill to push for this legislation. The IACP will continue to work with Congress to pass this critical legislation.
The IACP Supports Legislation Aimed at Reducing Firearms Violence
The IACP recently announced support for two pieces of legislation aimed at reducing the amount of firearms violence on American streets. The IACP has long advocated for laws that prevent individuals who pose a danger to society or to themselves from purchasing firearms. The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act (S. 34) and the Gun Show Background Check Act (S. 35) both were introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
Regarding S. 34, under current law, individuals wishing to purchase a firearm must undergo a background check, having their names run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Certain individuals, such as those convicted of a felony or those listed on the FBI’s Violent Gang List, cannot legally purchase firearms. S. 34 would properly classify those who are on the terror watch list as prohibited purchasers.
The legislation also gives the attorney general the discretion to deny any firearms license to an individual who is suspected to be involved in terrorist activity, while at the same time gives guidelines for individuals wanting to challenge a decision by the attorney general.
Regarding S. 35, the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 stipulates that individuals “engaged in the business” of selling firearms must possess a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Holders of FFLs are required to conduct background checks and maintain a record of all their firearm sales. Certain gun sales and transfers between private individuals, however, are exempt from this requirement.
There are approximately 5,200 traditional gun shows held annually across the United States, with vendors who are FFLs and nonlicensed firearms sellers. Those who would fail a background check can access firearms through these nonlicensed sources. Unlike an FFL, the seller is not required to conduct a background check to determine whether the purchaser is prohibited from purchasing and possessing a gun. If all gun sales proceed through an FFL, a single, consistent system for conducting gun sales, including background checks, will be established.
The laws that are currently in place to ensure gun purchasers go through FFLs are undermined by oversights in the law that allow individuals prohibited from owning firearms to obtain weapons at events such as gun shows without undergoing background checks.
The IACP calls on Congress to act swiftly to pass both pieces of legislation to preserve the effectiveness of existing laws. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "The IACP Testifies at Data Retention Hearing," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 78 (March 2011): 8.