February 26, 2021
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined U.S. Senators 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 experienced a terrible tragedy that was made even more agonizing by the delay in finding their daughter, Kelsey,” said Blunt. “The Kelsey Smith Act will provide law enforcement an important tool in their efforts to find and save the lives of kidnapping victims. This bill, which takes a narrowly crafted approach to balancing law enforcement needs and privacy concerns, will bring federal law in line with the laws that are already on the books in Missouri and many other states. I urge my Senate colleagues to support us in honoring Kelsey by getting this bill to the president’s desk.”
“Kelsey Smith’s tragic abduction sent shockwaves through the Overland Park community and the country,” said Moran. “In honor of their daughter and to aid law enforcement in rescuing kidnap victims, Greg and Missey Smith have worked tirelessly to support the passage of the Kelsey Smith Act in state legislatures around the country and here in Washington D.C. This legislation will make certain first responders have the tools they need to quickly locate people who have been abducted, and I urge my colleagues to support this sensible bill to help save lives.”
“When someone’s life is at risk, it is critical that law enforcement has the tools to respond as quickly as possible,” said Fischer. “By rapidly providing law enforcement with victims’ call location information, the Kelsey Smith Act will save the lives of innocent people while ensuring there is accountability for such requests.”
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 2012, Missouri became the eighth state to enact Kelsey’s Law. A total of 27 states have enacted similar laws. The Kelsey Smith Act would create a uniform law across the country.