Baker, Healey to modernize wiretapping rules

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey smiles as she takes the podium after being introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker for the announcement they have joined forces on a bill to modernize the state's nearly half-century-old wiretapping law during a media availability at the Statehouse on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) Stephan Savoia

  • Gov. Charlie Baker, with Attorney General Maura Healey, left, as he states they will update the state's wiretapping law. ap photo

Published: 5/2/2017 9:42:41 PM

BOSTON — The last time Massachusetts updated its wiretapping law, pay phones dotted the sidewalks and a text typically referred to a book — not a lightning-quick digital message.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey say it’s time the law caught up. The two are pushing a bill they say will update the law, giving police and prosecutors a stronger hand to solve violent crimes, such as gang-related killings and rape.

“We are limiting our capacity to keep people safe here in Massachusetts if we don’t take the fact that a lot’s happened since 1968 more seriously and make some of these relatively modest adjustments,” Baker said Tuesday.

Healey said updating the state’s wiretapping rules has been a priority of her office, and of her predecessor, former Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley. Earlier bills have been met with lukewarm support on Beacon Hill, in part due to privacy concerns.

Healey said she understands those concerns, but said the bill is focused largely on technology. “This truly is an update that takes into account that our world looks like this now, with cellphones and with text messages and instant messaging,” she said.

The legislation, which has the backing of district attorneys and police, would allow wiretaps to investigate murder, rape, human trafficking, drug trafficking, certain civil rights violations, possession or use of explosives, and possession or use of biological, chemical or radiological weapons.

It would expand the number of offenses that could be associated with organized crime, including illegal trafficking of firearms, money laundering and creation or dissemination of child porn.


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