Proposed update of wiretapping laws worries ACLU

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Attorney General Martha Coakley is pushing to modernize the state's current wiretapping laws, but the proposal has some concerned about the right to privacy.

Currently, state law allows warrants to be issued against individuals who are linked to organized crime and those who deliberately find ways to evade law enforcement. 

The law has not changed since 1968, and Coakley says that updating the legislation to target suspects in violent crime investigations will help police. She is calling for cell phones and other modern ways of communication to be included in the wiretap laws.

Some groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, are skeptical of these efforts, however.

Northampton Attorney James Winston told 22News that the right balance needs to be found between crime safety and people’s rights.

“There are constitutional safeguards, of course, for the right to privacy and the Fourth Amendment. And what I think the state is trying to do is balance that in trying to eliminate guns and violence,” Winston said.

The ACLU issued a statement on Monday warning residents about the broadening of the law, calling it "an expansion of government surveillance powers."  A proposal similar to the one being advanced by Coakley did not pass in Legislature last year.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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