Family of murder victim Kelsey Smith concerned about proposed privacy bill

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Congress is currently considering a law to beef up your privacy online and on your phone. The Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act proposed by a lawmaker from California would require law enforcement and government agencies to get a warrant before getting access to personal information, including any information your cellphone transmits about your location.

But that concerns Greg and Missey Smith. Their daughter, Kelsey, was murdered after being kidnapped from an Overland Park Target in 2007. She was eventually found using pings from her cellphone. Getting those pings more quickly wouldn't have saved her life, but it would have hastened the four-day search to find her body.

Since then, the Smiths have helped the Kelsey Smith Act pass in eight states, including Kansas and Missouri. Another five are considering it.

While the Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act does allow exclusions in emergency situations or for parents, the Smiths worry the law won't be clear enough. Greg Smith spent 20 years as a law enforcement officer, having to interpret the law when every second counts.

"To have to sit there and read through and hash through and figure out, 'Can I do this? Can I do this?' It needs to be clear," he said. "It needs to be succinct so that people can make decisions under stress."

That is why the Smiths are currently working with Congressman Kevin Yoder to make the Kelsey Smith Act federal law. It would allow expressed, quick access to cellphone information to law enforcement, and it protects cellphone companies from legal action if they hand over the information in good faith.

The Smiths hope their law will be ready to put in front of lawmakers this legislative session.

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