home > legislation
2004 Legislative Report
the 2004 General Session of the Utah Legislature proved to be an extremely
frustrating experience for defenders of civil liberties.
of Utah recognizes that the decisions made during these annual sessions
have a lasting impact on our communities. As new laws are created and
others repealed and rewritten, we try to ensure that these changes strengthen
rather than compromise our constitutional rights. We address a wide
range of issues, and our organizing and lobbying efforts are aimed at
educating lawmakers and the public about the civil liberties implications
of the proposed bills.
our part-time Legislative Coordinator, we were aided by a group of dedicated
volunteer citizen lobbyists who spent countless hours attending legislative
committee hearings and floor debates. This, along with the legal research
of our staff attorney and interns, helped us track and take action on
the session the ACLU of Utah testified before committee hearings on
four occasions and submitted seven letters outlining our position on
a number of critical bills. We also sent letters to Governor Olene Walker
requesting her to veto three bills.
is our report on important legislation in the 2004 session that raise
serious civil liberties issues in Utah.
Driver License Requirements
Drug Offenders Reform
Safe and Free
Technology, Liberty and Privacy
of Private Lawfully Obtained Property - SB 175: passed
Despite the Fifth Amendment’s assertion that no person "be deprived
of . . . property, without due process of law," the Supreme Court
ruled in 1974 that property could be seized and sold by the government
without any arrest, conviction, or due process. Under the idea that
property itself can be guilty, police may now take property without
a conviction or an arrest, leaving the individual to prove the property
has no connection to a crime.
175 revises current Utah law initiated through the passage
UUFPA and is scheduled to become law immediately unless Governor Walker
bill is a step backward from some of the reforms begun by UUFPA. This
bill removes the provision allowing legal forfeiture of assets only
if a person is found guilty. While it does give the asset owner some
avenues for compensation upon acquittal, it allows the property to
be forfeited, returning to owners only a portion of the proceeds instead
of their original property. This allows police the possibility of
profiting from seized property, giving them a financial incentive
to reduce or eliminate criminal charges in exchange for the accused
not contesting the forfeiture of seized property.
arguments against this bill include:
there have been many instances when individuals have been the victims
of an overzealous use of our civil forfeiture laws. If a person is
carrying a large amount of cash, for example, it is assumed to be
drug money and is therefore subject to forfeiture. In other cases,
people lose their homes because, unbeknownst to them, their child,
a visitor, or a renter is charged with drug dealing. Under civil asset
forfeiture laws, the fundamental principle “innocent until proven
guilty” is turned on its head, and property owners must hire
an attorney to get their property back – even if they are never
convicted of a crime. In contrast, those convicted under criminal
statutes are afforded full constitutional and procedural protections.
SB 175’s passage is a disappointing retreat in forfeiture laws.
- Hardship release of property is prohibited if the property
was misused prior to seizure, regardless of the owner’s involvement
with or knowledge of the misuse.
- Increased delay for a hardship release from 10 to 20 days,
which can hurt small businesses.
- Property may be sold prior to proof in a court of law that
the property is subject to forfeiture.
- The punishment may exceed the crime, because the forfeiture
may be disproportional to the misuse of the property.
here to read our in depth report on asset forfeiture.
Penalty Amendments - HB 180: passed
Punishment Amendments-Excluded Days - SB 80: passed
to be Executed – Amendments - SB 49: passed
The death penalty is, of course, the greatest denial of civil liberties.
In the past 30 years, 113 inmates were found to be innocent and released
from death row. Utah is one of 38 states still allowing capital punishment
and there were three bills at the legislature this year dealing with it.
HB 180 - Firing Squad.
Without irony, the legislature voted to eliminate the firing squad because
the option was too empowering to the inmate on death row. Lethal injection
will now be the only method used in Utah. One Senator claimed that eliminating
the firing squad was a “watering down” of Utah’s death
penalty. Another wanted to be able to continue to use it where the crime
was particularly heinous. But most felt it focused undue attention and
sympathy on the condemned. Perhaps more bizarrely, the Utah Sentencing
Commission checked with the LDS Church last fall to make sure that proposed
legislation would not run contrary to notions of the doctrine of “blood
atonement” which calls for the shedding of blood to pay for sins.
Utah was the last state to use a firing squad.
SB 8 - Excluded Days.
The bill provided that executions may not be conducted on Sunday, Monday,
or a legal holiday. Again, no irony intended, but difficult to avoid,
the legislature simply wanted to cut down on costs by not requiring corrections
employees dealing with executions to work on Sundays or holidays. Monday
executions, apparently, require preparation on Sundays. This bill will
make executions more administratively convenient for the state. No comment.
SB 49 - Competency.
Under this bill, an inmate may not be executed if he is unaware, due to
mental condition, of the punishment about to be suffered or why he is
about to suffer it. The Disability Law Center worked hard on this bill,
and was pleased that it at least incorporated an amendment prohibiting
the forcible administration of psychoactive medication for the sole purpose
of restoring an inmate’s competency to be executed. However, despite
that small gain, the ACLU continues to stand against the death penalty
under any circumstance.
DRIVER LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
Presence Provisions - HB 109: failed
Workers Driver License Revisions - SB 242: failed
Requirements for Driver License - HB 270: passed
Legal Presence Provisions - HB 109:
This bill sought to prohibit illegal aliens from obtaining a valid Utah
driver license by narrowing the list of accepted documentation that can
be used to apply for a license, including the use of a Matricula Consular
card. This is a form of identification issued by embassies and consulates
to citizens of their respective countries. 400 cities, 80 financial institutions,
825 law enforcement agencies, and 14 states currently accept these cards
as valid identification.
While the bill sponsors stated that this bill would affect only illegal
aliens, many minority civic and business organizations opposed this bill
saying that it would impact the larger legal immigrant community and those
minority U.S. citizens.
This bill would have resulted in the following:
This bill never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee.
- Denial of licenses to legal immigrants who do not have other required
forms of identification.
- Erosion of community trust. Immigrants fear discrimination and being
reported to INS and therefore avoid contact with law enforcement.
- Proliferation of false documents.
- Discrimination and racial profiling. Often those who are asked to
show documentation are U.S. citizens and those suspected of being
“undocumented” are legal immigrants.
Undocumented Workers Driver License Revisions
- SB 242:
SB 242 was similar to HB 109 in many ways. While not mentioning the use
of the Matricula Consular card, it did attempt to impose rigid residency
documentation requirements on those applying for a Utah Driver License.
This bill failed when a state financial report showed that this would
decrease Department of Motor Vehicles revenue by over $500,000 a year.
Residence Requirements for Driver License
- HB 270:
This bill had a wider list of requirements for proving state residency
making it easier for legal immigrants and others to apply for a Utah Drivers
DRUG OFFENDER REFORM
Offenders Reform Act - SB 21: failed
This bill was the result of years of research and planning by criminal
justice and drug treatment professionals in an attempt to change the way
our criminal justice system deals with drug offenders. While 85% of all
offenders have a substance abuse problem, only one third of them receive
treatment in prison. Untreated offenders have a negative impact on the
justice system because they leave prison and commit another crime. Over
40% of all parolees return to prison because of an untreated substance
abuse problem. Treatment is currently provided to only 44% of released
This bill would have created a new process to address drug addiction:
offenders would be screened for substance abuse, results would then be
provided to the judge as part of the pre-sentence investigation report,
and the judge would have the option of sentencing an offender to treatment
as a condition of probation. The major issue with the bill was the $6.1
million fiscal note. The committee discussed the fiscal implications thoroughly.
Research indicates that the state could realize approximately $6 in avoided
costs for every $1 spent on treatment. Committee members decided the initial
investment would be worth the long-term savings in lowered recidivism
rates and costs for housing inmates. After the bill was recommended favorably
by a unanimous vote of the committee, the audience applauded. It passed
the Senate with no negative votes and was sent to the House. The House
committee passed it out with a favorable recommendation. Unfortunately,
because of the $6.1 million fiscal note, SB 21 was returned to the House
Rules Committee where it stayed until the session ended.
and Character Education in Schools - HB 22: passed
This bill provides definitions of civic education, character education,
and values. These values are to be taught in connection with regular daily
work, not as a separate program requiring special funding or added specialists.
Teachers testified at committee hearings that civic and character education
is currently included in the public education curriculum. During the Senate
floor debate, several senators expressed concern that the values to be
taught are not clearly defined. The ACLU finds this bill unnecessary,
vague and impossible to enforce.
Internet Protection Act - HB 341: passed
to Display Flag At Personal Residence - HB 79: passed
Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax - HB 239: passed
of Activities in or Near School Building – HB 199: passed
of Cross Burning on Property - HB 246: failed
Special License Plates - HB 89, HB 143, HB 144, HB 284, HB 332, SB 241:failed
HB 203: passed
Children’s Internet Protection Act
- HB 341:
The bill prohibits a public library from receiving state funds unless
the library implements and enforces measures to filter Internet access
to certain images harmful to minors, including child pornography and obscenity.
The bill also allows a public library representative to disable the filter
at the request of an adult library patron for research or other lawful
Last year the US Supreme Court ruled on a similar federal measure. Librarians
objected to the law on First Amendment grounds, arguing that it is not
the role of the state, i.e. librarians, to censor Internet access. The
Court upheld the law, ruling that restricting children’s access to pornographic
material did not in itself pose a constitutional problem, but also acknowledging
that available filters are blunt instruments that inevitably block more
material than contemplated. The question was the extent to which this
“overblocking”” infringes the First Amendment rights of adult library
users. Sexually explicit material that comes under the general heading
of pornography has First Amendment protection, although obscenity and
child pornography do not.
Both the federal law and Utah’s bill potentially restrict government
funding rather than impose criminal penalties. A legislative body has
fairly wide latitude to attach conditions to receipt of government assistance
A significant First Amendment issue is presented because the government
can curtail speech in a public forum only for compelling reasons. But
the Court ruled that Internet access does not necessarily turn a library
into a public forum.
Utah’s new law still leaves choices for librarians. The ACLU of
Utah previously prepared advice for librarians
that is equally applicable to the new state Children’s Internet
Right to Display Flag At Personal Residence
- HB 79:
This bill ensures a renter, resident of a mobile home park, and the owner
of a condominium unit, the right to display the United States or Utah
flag. It does not include a “depiction” made from lights,
paint, roofing materials, flora, balloons, or other building, landscaping,
or decorative component. The bill excludes contracts that existed prior
to May 3, 2004. The ACLU of Utah submitted a letter to every senator expressing
concern that the bill implies that other forms of free speech, such as
other flags, banners or other political signs, may be prohibited. The
letter encouraged the Senate to, “rewrite the bill so that it clearly
avoids the violation of residents’ right to free speech and control
of their property.”
Click here to read the letter we sent to the Senate
on HB 79.
Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service
Tax - HB 239:
This bill taxes sexually explicit businesses and escort services. The
Senate removed a provision for the funds to go to a restricted special
fund for treatment programs dealing with sex offenders. The ACLU of Utah
submitted a letter to the committee opposing passage of the bill because
it would burden protected free speech in violation of the First Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution. It would also discriminate against the businesses
by requiring only the specified businesses to pay the tax, without a showing
that the tax is necessary to serve a compelling state interest.
2/19/04: The ACLU distributed a letter to the Senate Revenue
& Taxation Committee in opposition to HB 239, Sexually Explicit Business
and Escort Service Tax. Read the letter.
Disruption of Activities in or Near School
Building - HB 199:
HB 199 makes it a misdemeanor if an individual, on a street or sidewalk
adjacent to a school building or ground, materially disrupts school activities
and remains in place despite being asked to leave by the chief administrator
of the school. The ACLU of Utah was concerned with the initial draft of
this bill, which was worded more broadly, and would have curbed expressive
activity protected by the First Amendment. Our concern remains that the
bill lacks an objective standard for determining what activities near
the school buildings or grounds are prohibited.
Prohibition of Cross Burning on Property
- HB 246:
Ogden fifth-graders wanted to make it illegal to intimidate others by
cross burning and so encouraged their state representative to initiate
this bill. It passed out of the House committee and failed on the House
The bill would have prohibited “the burning of a cross on another’s
property, highway or any other public place with the intent to intimidate
a person.” The act would have been a third-degree felony and punishable
by up to five years in prison.
The specific language of “intent” in the bill appeared to have
considered a 2003 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that delineated between
expressions of free speech and of intimidation. In Virginia v. Black,
the high court said the context of the event is important. A resident
burning a cross on his private property could be viewed as engaging in
protected speech. A cross burning in a public place or on another person’s
property could be considered a hate message crime.
Many legislators expressed concern that the bill was limiting and did
not include other expressions of hate and intent to intimidate. But the
US Supreme Court had also held that the state could single out cross burning
because it is an especially “virulent form of intimidation”
with a “long and pernicious history as a signal of impending violence.”
Special License Plates - HB 89, HB 143,
HB 144, HB 203, HB 284, HB 332, SB 241:
Utah allows for specialty license plates approved by the state legislature.
Almost all of the groups authorized have been government affiliated. One
exception is a “homeless pets’ plate. It costs about $7000
for a group to apply for specialty plates.
This year a spate of plates was requested for private groups. Problematic
was a proposal for “Choose Life” plates. The state is not
permitted to violate the First Amendment by authorizing speech that is
not viewpoint neutral. The state cannot favor one side in a political
debate by providing for only that side to place its slogan on license
Motorists are free to make direct contributions to organizations of their
own choosing, but the state cannot set up a scheme by which money is funneled
to organizations representing only one side of a given political debate.
Someone at the legislature this year figured that out and all of the specialty
license plate bills failed or were abandoned, except for HB 203, which
dealt with the reordering of decal stickers.
Penalty Amendment - HB 68: failed
Crimes Amendment - SB 41: failed
Hate crimes legislation potentially brings into play an interesting and
subtle conflict between civil liberties and civil rights. Civil liberties
are, generally speaking, those rights held by individuals that should
not be encroached upon by the government (unless there is a justifiable
reason). Civil rights, on the other hand, sometimes call for increased
government action to protect the rights of all citizens.
For an explanation of the bills and the civil liberties implications,
click here for our position paper.
Recognition Policy - SB 24: passed
Resolution on Marriage - HJR 25: passed
Parentage Act - SB 45: failed
The right of same-sex couples to marry was under assault during the 2004
legislative session, just as it is under assault by President Bush’s
endorsement of an amendment to the federal constitution. The amendment
endorsed by the President would mandate discrimination against a group
of people—gay men and lesbians—by writing it into the Constitution.
Similarly, the Utah legislature passed a proposal to amend our state constitution
to discriminate against same-sex couples. Apparently in an effort to drive
the discrimination home, the legislature also passed a bill defining marriage
as between a man and a woman, and refusing to recognize marriages or similar
unions sanctioned in other states.
While this attack on the rights of same-sex couples was underway at the
Utah legislature, cities across the nation began issuing marriage licenses
to same-sex couples. In San Francisco, the Mayor defied state law by allowing
the city to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Same-sex
marriages were also preformed in New York and Oregon. Additionally, Massachusetts’s
highest court ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry under
the state constitution.
Just as laws sanctioning racial discrimination and prohibiting interracial
marriage were ruled unconstitutional, so too will laws forbidding same-sex
couples from marrying. State issued marriage licenses grant couples upward
of 1,500 state and federal legal benefits, which are now denied to same-sex
couples in Utah. These benefits range from tax breaks to hospital visitation
rights to child custody rights. Therefore, one reason same-sex couples
wish to be legally married is to protect the stability of their families.
The state does not have a rational interest in denying the rights and
incidents of marriage to couples based merely on their sex.
Marriage Recognition Policy - SB 24:
Although Utah already had a law defining marriage as between a man and
a woman (such laws are commonly called Defense of Marriage Acts, or DOMA’s),
the legislature passed Senate Bill 24 restating that Utah’s policy
is to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman. Because marriage
was already defined as between a man and a woman, the actual intent of
this bill seems to be to refuse to recognize marriages or other unions
between same-sex couples that are legal in other states. The bill states
that Utah will refuse to recognize, enforce, or give any legal effect
to “any legal status, rights, benefits, or duties that are substantially
equivalent to those provided under Utah law to a man and a woman because
they are married.”
The ACLU of Utah submitted letters to the committee and to both houses,
arguing that the bill is unconstitutional and fundamentally unfair. Staff
attorney Margaret Plane also testified before the committee that the bill
is constitutionally deficient because it denies gay and lesbian couples
equal protection of the law, which is guaranteed under the Fourteenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court has
long held that discrimination for its own sake is inherently improper.
Yet, this bill discriminates against same-sex couples based solely on
the sex of the couples. SB 24 passed, despite these constitutional problems.
01/21/04: The ACLU distributed a letter to the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement,
and Criminal Justice Committee. Read the letter.
03/10/04: The ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Walker requesting her to veto
SB 24. Read the letter.
Joint Resolution on Marriage - HJR 25:
As if a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman were not enough,
the legislature passed a resolution proposing to amend the Utah Constitution.
A proposal will be sent to Utah voters, asking them to amend the state
constitution to add that “marriage consists only of the legal union
between a man and a woman . . . [and] no other domestic union, however
denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially
equivalent legal effect.”
Voters will have a chance to vote on this proposed amendment in the November
election. The ACLU of Utah urges voters to vote against amending the constitution
to add a discriminatory provision, which limits the rights of a specific
group. More information on this issue will be developing.
Uniform Parentage Act - SB 45:
Lastly, to the relief of the ACLU of Utah, the Uniform Parentage Act failed.
SB 45 dealt with many issues, but of primary concern to the ACLU was a
section regulating gestational agreements. Under the bill, the intended
parents contracting with a gestational mother must be married. We believe
that limiting the surrogacy option to married couples is discriminatory,
and passes judgment about how people should form families. SB 45 failed.
of Public Funding for Abortion - SB 68: passed
Birth Abortion Amendments - SB 69: passed
Urging State to Recognize Federal Law Prohibiting Partial Birth Abortion
- SJR 3: failed
The assault on women’s reproductive freedom continued during the
2004 legislative session. Two bills that work to limit access to abortion
were passed during the session.
Prohibition of Public Funding for Abortion
SB 68 prohibits the use of public funds for abortion services, except
in limited situations. The ACLU of Utah submitted letters to the committee
and both houses urging legislators to vote against the bill because the
exceptions are more restrictive than those permitted under federal Medicaid
regulations. We also opposed SB 68 because its fiscal ramifications are
unclear, and may be widespread as the bill prohibits the use of “direct
or indirect” public funds. Staff attorney Margaret Plane testified
about these concerns.
The ACLU was primarily concerned with SB 68’s narrow waiver of the
requirement that cases of rape or incest be reported to the police. The
bill only allows waiver of the reporting requirement if the woman was
unable to report for physical reasons or fear of retaliation. In contrast,
under federal regulations concerning the use of public funds for abortion,
the reporting requirement may be waived when a physician certifies that
the patient cannot report for physical or psychological reasons. The Utah
requirement is more restrictive and lacks the objective standard of a
physician to determine whether a woman is unable to report a case of rape
By imposing eligibility requirements that are more restrictive than those
permitted under federal law, SB 68 arguably places Utah’s federal
Medicaid funds at risk. Further, by not participating in the Medicaid
program under the terms established by Congress, the bill violates the
Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
01/21/04: The ACLU delivered the first letter to the members of the Senate
Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee as well. Read
03/10/04: The ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Walker requesting her to veto
SB 68. Read the letter.
Partial Birth Abortion Amendments - SB 69:
The legislature passed SB 69, “Partial Birth Abortion Amendments,”
which they failed to pass last year. The bill alters Utah’s already
existing ban on so-called “partial birth abortions.” While
we would prefer laws that work to protect access to safe abortions, we
think it unfortunate that the legislature amended Utah’s existing
law, which has been cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice O’Connor
as a model method wherein states can address this issue without violating
The ACLU of Utah implored legislators to vote against SB 69 in letters
submitted to the committee and to both houses. The letters argued that
the bill was constitutionally flawed because it failed to include an exception
to protect the health of the pregnant woman and because it was written
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently required that when the government
attempts to prohibit abortion, there must be exceptions to preserve the
health and the life of the pregnant mother. SB 69 violates this requirement
because it fails to provide an exception to protect the woman’s
The ACLU also raised concerns about the range of safe abortion procedures
prohibited by the bill. Because the prohibited range is too broad, the
bill likely places an undue burden on a woman’s right to seek an
abortion. This violates U.S. Supreme Court rulings stating that abortion
laws may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to seek an
abortion before viability.
While testifying on SB 69, staff attorney Margaret Plane informed the
committee that the 2003 federal ban on partial birth abortion, which is
very similar to the Utah bill, has been blocked from enforcement by three
federal courts. Because those cases are scheduled for trial this spring,
she encouraged the committee to wait for the outcome of those cases before
passing a substantially similar law in Utah. Further, so long as the federal
ban is in place, a state law is unnecessary.
01/20/04: The ACLU of Utah testified before the Senate Judiciary, Law
Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee on the unconstitutionality
of SB 69. Read the letter that was distributed to
01/21/04: A follow-up letter on SB 69 was distributed on January 21. Read
the follow-up letter.
03/10/04 The ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Walker requesting her to veto
SB 69. Read the letter
Resolution Urging State to Recognize Federal
Law Prohibiting Partial Birth Abortion - SJR 3
A senate joint resolution urging the state to recognize the federal law
and expressing opposition to the expenditure of any financial or personnel
resources by the state to defend the federal partial birth abortion law
died in the rules committee. This approach would have been preferable
to the state passing its own law on partial birth abortion.
SAFE AND FREE
Resolution Reaffirming the State of Utah’s Commitment to the Constitution
and the Bill of Rights - HJR 10: failed
This resolution was initiated by individuals concerned about laws and
executive orders promulgated since September 11, 2001 that undermine our
civil liberties. It urged the federal government to design security measures
without infringing on civil liberties. It also requested that Utah’s
congressional delegation periodically advise the people of Utah about
efforts to preserve the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights. The ACLU of Utah joined the Utah Eagle Forum, the Utah
Progressive Network, the League of Women Voters of Utah, the Citizens
Education Project, and the Conservative Caucus in a letter supporting
this resolution which was presented to the House Judiciary Committee.
The resolution passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously with a
favorable recommendation. It also passed the House of Representatives
with no opposition. Unfortunately, due to political skirmishing over another
bill, the resolution was held in the Senate Rules Committee until the
02/09/04: The ACLU of Utah passed out a letter to members of the House
Judiciary Committee in support of HJR 10. The letter was signed by a coalition
of grassroots organizations representing a wide range of political perspectives.
Read the letter.
TECHNOLOGY, LIBERTY, AND
Utah’s Participation in MATRIX - HB 356, HJR
Amendments - HB 348: failed
Utah’s participation in the MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information
Exchange) appears to be over, despite the failure of two bills and a resolution
urging Utah to end its participation. In November of 2003, the ACLU of
Utah sent a GRAMA request to the Department of Public Safety, requesting
all documents concerning Utah’s participation in the MATRIX. This
request was renewed in January of 2004 after the Department failed to
comply. Thanks to the ACLU’s efforts, and the efforts of other watchdog
groups, Governor Walker halted Utah from continuing to send information
to the database.
At the legislature, HB 356 would have required Utah to halt all participation
in the MATRIX. A resolution demanding the state to immediately end participation,
HJR 21, was also introduced. Additionally, HB 348, Privacy Amendments,
may have precluded Utah from sending information to a database like MATRIX.
All three died before making it to committee. The ACLU of Utah eventually
received documents from the Department of Public Safety; those documents
have been sent to our national office for their on-going review of similar
documents from around the nation. Click here for more information about
the MATRIX and Utah’s participation.
Internet Information Privacy Act - HB 25: passed
This bill enacts provisions governing privacy policies, the collection
of personally identifiable information by a governmental entity, and regulates
the posting of personally identifiable information on a court website.
“Governmental entity” is defined very broadly to include all
branches of government and political subdivisions, as well as all branches
of the education system. The bill creates a requirement that a privacy
policy statement must be in place on a government website on the day the
personally identifiable information is collected. It also requires, with
exceptions, that court websites may not display personally identifiable
information and must contain notice that includes a list of documents
routinely posted on the site.
Protection Registry - HB 165: passed
HB 165 establishes a registry of contact points (including email, instant
message, or other electronic address, telephone, and facsimile numbers)
for minors. Individuals may register a minor’s information, and
schools or other institutions dealing primarily with minors may register
their domain names. When registering a contact point, a disclosure must
be given, stating that the registry is not completely secure, and that
registered contact points may be “at greater risk of being misappropriated.”
The Division of Consumer Protection must establish procedures to determine
how the contact points will be added to and removed from the registry.
The bill makes it a crime to send anyone on the list ads for products
minors cannot purchase under law and to send material that is harmful
to minors. It is unclear whether a federal law preempts this bill, and
will likely remain unclear until the details are finalized. While the
bill seems to be narrowly tailored so that it does not burden adult speech,
that too will remain unclear at least until the details are finalized.
Regardless, the ACLU of Utah is concerned about databases such as this,
because of the enormous potential for misuse and abuse, as recognized
by the disclosure discussed above.
Regulation - HB 323: passed
This bill allows an action for damages to be brought against anyone who
installs spyware, software that delivers advertisements to a computer
based on the web sites visited and other user information collected, on
a computer without the computer user’s consent. The ACLU is a champion
of the Internet as a vital and active forum for free speech, while it
is also concerned about privacy on the Internet. Spyware regulations are
evolving, and are probably best undertaken at a national level to ensure
national uniformity of Internet activities. However, any regulations of
the Internet and its use should work to ensure that the Internet remains
an active forum for free speech, while also ensuring that an individual’s
private information is not collected by an inappropriate entity.
Amendments – SB 66: passed
UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency) is a proposed
high-speed Internet infrastructure for businesses and residents, proposed
by 18 Utah cities. Not all cities involved have signed on to the project,
and the legislature, through SB 66, made it harder for the cities to do
so this session. The ACLU of Utah wrote an open letter, expressing its
position on the importance of keeping the Internet free from monopoly
Read the ACLU letter on UTOPIA and the ACLU
Return to top of page