Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and to insert extraneous materials in the Record on the bill.
Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Imagine that your child is missing. You know that she was abducted from a parking lot, but you don't know where she is now or how to find her. Grasping for any possible lead, you ask her cell phone carrier to provide the location--and just the location--of her cell phone, hoping that it will lead you to her, but you are told they don't release that information. So you wait. You rely on others to search for your child by foot and by air, never knowing if your child is alive or if your child is
dead, safe, or in pain.
This nightmare came true for Missey and Greg Smith 9 years ago last week when their beloved daughter went missing outside Kansas City, Kansas. By all accounts, Kelsey Smith--pictured here--was a vibrant and joyful 18-year-old girl.
She was preparing to attend college in the fall where she planned to join in the marching band. Kelsey loved to sing. She was the third of five siblings. Tragically, her life was cut short when she was kidnapped from a Target parking lot in June of 2007 just 9 days after her high school graduation, a crime caught on the store's security cameras.
Her family and her friends spent 4 anguished days searching for her, knowing she was in danger but unable to find her. They used every method they could think of to help locate her, but the one tool that would eventually lead to finding her body was not accessible.
Kelsey's parents contacted her cell phone provider on the day she went missing and asked them to ping her cell phone in the hopes that it would assist them in their search. Despite repeated requests from the family and from law enforcement, it took 4 days before the Smiths were able to obtain the location data of Kelsey's cell phone--4 days, Mr. Speaker, nearly 100 hours of not knowing where their little girl had gone, where she had been taken, or if they would ever see her again. Yet, within
45 minutes of receiving that location data, when they finally got it, Kelsey's body was found. She was dead.
When her mother testified in front of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, she spoke so bravely of the agony Kelsey's family endured during that time. She described their ordeal in painful detail. What does a parent go through when a child is missing? You do not eat because you do not know if your child is eating. You do not sleep because you wonder if your child is sleeping. It is, to quote Missey, ``pure hell.''
Missey and Greg Smith have made it their mission to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again. They began facilitating safety awareness seminars for parents and for students. They also began to push for legislation to address the very problem of obtaining timely cell phone location data--only location data, that is all we are talking about here--and only during life-threatening emergencies--just life-and-death situations and only locational data.
The legislation we are considering today, which is named in honor of their daughter, is a major step toward that goal. The Kelsey Smith Act requires cell phone providers to provide law enforcement with access to device location data in an emergency situation, when a victim is in danger of death or serious harm or when the device has been used to place a 911 emergency call requesting emergency assistance.
This changes current law. You see, current law already permits carriers to provide the data, but it does not require them to. This places an unreasonable burden on wireless providers to determine what constitutes an emergency and then live with the consequences of their decisions, which they now must do in the case of Kelsey Smith.
When time is of the essence, do you want a lawyer in corporate headquarters to agonize over the legal definition of an ``emergency'' or do you want the law enforcement officers, who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe, to make that call? I opt for those who can save lives.
To date, versions of the Kelsey Smith Act have been adopted in 23 States, but a patchwork of laws that protect some and leave others vulnerable is not good for the companies that must comply with this law or, more importantly, for the American lives that this law can and will save.
You see, Mr. Speaker, the committee believes we need a consistent Federal law that law enforcement across the country can use. Parents shouldn't have to forum-shop for the most favorable law when their children go missing. What if it were your child?
I have heard the privacy concerns that some say have been raised by this bill. We have worked diligently to make the bill as targeted as possible to balance legitimate privacy concerns with the importance of saving lives. By limiting the circumstances in which it can be used and, most importantly, by limiting the information that is available, we can ensure that it is only used [Page: H2886]
in cases in which it is absolutely necessary.
Mr. Speaker, we have heard from law enforcement officers across the country that, when people are in emergency situations, every second counts, and that delay can mean the difference between life and death. The Kelsey Smith Act takes the burden of decisionmaking away from cell phone providers and places it with law enforcement, who are trained specifically to make this kind of determination.
The Kelsey Smith Act has been successfully used in multiple States where it is already law. In fact, in Kansas, we have an infant here named Aubrey. Aubrey was innocently in her car seat in a car, in the backseat of the vehicle, when somebody carjacked the car while her parents were standing near it, just feet away.
Can you imagine? Her parents are right there, and somebody jumps in the car and drives off with it as you stand hopelessly, unable to do anything as their little daughter, Aubrey, was inside.
The local police department used the Kelsey Smith Act in Kansas to track the cell phone that was still in the car, and they were able to successfully recover the baby, Aubrey, who was unharmed, in about 30 minutes.
Officer Dan Friesen credited the safe recovery to the Kelsey Smith Act, saying that the ``technology is very helpful to us and is made possible by the Kelsey Smith Law.''
Thanks to Kelsey and Greg and Missey Smith, little Aubrey is safe in the arms of her family once again. In the words of her mother: ``We are so happy to have Aubrey home with us and can't picture life without our baby girl.'' Because of the Kelsey Smith Act, they do not have to.
Mr. Speaker, this law goes beyond just kidnapping cases, however. The Kansas Sheriffs' Association told us it has also been used in cases of adults with dementia and missing people who are in danger due to lack of life-sustaining medication, severe weather, or other life-threatening circumstances.
I thank my friend from Kansas, Congressman Kevin Yoder. He has been tireless in his advocacy for this legislation. He first brought this bill to my attention last Congress and continued to push for its passage again this year. He has been an advocate for Kelsey and her family throughout the process, and this bill would not have advanced this far without Congressman Yoder's work.
I also want to thank Greg and Missey Smith, who are in the gallery today, for their courage in the face of their tragedy. Because of their willingness to speak about their daughter and what happened to her, we are here today with the opportunity to prevent tragedies like this one that befell Kelsey Smith.
Now, I think it is important to note this legislation passed out of the subcommittee after full hearings and through the full committee. In fact, it was voted unanimously out of the full committee. There were no voices of objection.
This Wednesday, May 25, is National Missing Children's Day. According to the FBI, in 2015, there were more than 460,000 reports of missing children made to law enforcement in the U.S. How many of these missing children carry a cell phone? Even if the Kelsey Smith Act leads to the recovery of only one of those missing children, isn't it worth it? As a parent, I can tell you that, for the families of missing children, it certainly is.
We have the opportunity to equip law enforcement with another tool to aid them in emergency situations, a tool that costs nothing and uses information that already exists. Let's seize this opportunity.
Now, I know there will be those who will argue that somehow we didn't go far enough in privacy. Well, guess what. My State of Oregon passed an almost identical bill, unanimously, and it is a very blue State, Mr. Speaker--full Democratic house, Democratic senate, Democratic Governor. Not a single member objected. That is what this version of the bill is based on.
Multiple other States have different reporting requirements for members of their law enforcement community. We honor what the States have done and can do. We don't take that away. We don't override that. They can go farther if they want in terms of what they want their State law enforcement officers to do or not do. We simply address the issue related to the telephone carriers and what they must do when called upon in life-and-death situations to save the lives of little girls like Aubrey and
Let's honor Kelsey's memory by ensuring that her lasting legacy isn't the story of her death but, rather, the story of how she continued to make a difference to save lives.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SARBANES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in opposition to H.R. 4889.
I do want to say the Democrats continue to support the intention behind this bill. What happened to Kelsey Smith is clearly a tragedy that should not be allowed to happen again. Her family, who have advocated for these changes in the law, deserve our respect and are true heroes. But we cannot support this effort to force the bill through without including the commonsense consumer protections that resulted from strong bipartisan work in the last Congress.
In the 113th Congress, the Committee on Energy and Commerce passed a version of the Kelsey Smith Act, a version that included specific protections for consumers' privacy closer in line with what is required under the Fourth Amendment. The legislation was a negotiated outcome that carefully balanced the needs of law enforcement on one hand with the rights of consumers and privacy concerns on the other hand. These protections would not have in any way slowed law enforcement's ability to find people
in an emergency. They would simply have made sure that consumers are protected after a search takes place. This was a good deal. Unfortunately, the path taken in the current Congress was different.
This year's bill, the one that we are debating now, disregards the hard work that went into finding a bipartisan agreement on the Kelsey Smith Act in the last Congress. During markups in the Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats offered amendments that would modify H.R. 4889 back to what was agreed to in the last Congress. It would have kept the requirement that carriers provide the requested information to law enforcement, but the amendment would have provided a simple consumer safeguard.
It would have required that law enforcement seek a court order within 48 hours after it makes an emergency request. So it would in no way have stood in the way of an emergency request; it would have just required law enforcement to seek that court order after the emergency request.
Such modifications would address some of the concerns that have been raised regarding the potential abuse of H.R. 4889. It would not hamper law enforcement's ability to have quick access to lifesaving location data when they are presented with an emergency situation.
We recognize that Chairman Walden was concerned that he could not support last year's deal, the version from last Congress, because it was not completely consistent with the law in his home State. That is why our proposal added a provision to protect existing State laws. Unfortunately, our efforts were rebuffed.
We continue to stand ready to work together again, but I cannot support this bill in its current form without ensuring that additional protections are in place.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SARBANES. Mr. Speaker, let me say again that Democrats strongly support the intention behind this bill, but we cannot support it as it is currently drafted. We believe that we can do better.
I urge Members to vote ``no'' on H.R. 4889.
I yield back the balance of my time.