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Blunt Backs Kelsey Smith Act to Expedite Search Efforts for Kidnapping Victims

January 30, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (Kan.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), and Deb Fischer (Neb.) in introducing the Kelsey Smith Act. The bill, named for 18-year-old Kelsey Smith who was abducted and murdered in 2007, would strengthen law enforcement’s ability to lawfully and quickly access cell phone location information, or ping information, when a person is abducted and their life is threatened.

“The Smith family endured a horrific tragedy that was made even more agonizing by the delay in finding their daughter, Kelsey,” said Blunt. “The Kelsey Smith Act will give law enforcement a vital tool in their efforts to find and save the lives of kidnapping victims. This bipartisan bill, which takes a narrowly crafted approach to balancing privacy concerns and law enforcement needs, will bring federal law in line with the laws that are already on the books in Missouri and 22 other states. I urge my Senate colleagues to join us in honoring Kelsey by getting this bill to the president’s desk.”

The Kelsey Smith Act would expedite the search for missing persons by requiring cell phone carriers to provide limited cell phone data to law enforcement in the case of an emergency. The bill creates a very limited exception that protects individuals’ privacy rights and addresses carriers’ liability concerns. Law enforcement agencies were unable to locate Kelsey Smith for four days following her abduction due to red tape that prevented them from accessing her cell phone location data. After they obtained the data, Kelsey’s body was found within 45 minutes.

In August 2012, Missouri became the eighth state to enact Kelsey’s Law. A total of 23 states have enacted similar laws. The Kelsey Smith Act would create a uniform law across the country.

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