Pennsylvania’s prosecutors, saying the public’s privacy rights are threatened, will ask state legislators to close a loophole that allows open access to cell-phone and e-mail records, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. District attorneys were “shocked” to discover that state law allows lawyers to obtain cell-phone records on behalf of clients through a simple subpoena without court review, said Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias, president of the state District Attorneys Association.
The issue became public this week when The Inquirer reported that defense attorneys, searching for the source of grand-jury leaks, legally obtained the cell-phone records of two prosecutors and two state police detectives. Police officers and prosecutors say disclosure of their calling records is dangerous. Criminals might use them to identity confidential informants, they say. For the public, prosecutors say, the phone records could be abused in “infinite” ways: Victims of domestic violence could be targeted by their partners. Witnesses in criminal cases could be hunted down. Said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman: “This should send a chill down any citizen’s spine.”