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Pennsylvania House Passes Updated Wiretap Bill

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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - The Pennsylvania House has passed a bill that would update the state’s wiretap law, a bill opponents say goes too far.

The sponsor of the bill, House Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico, a Harrisburg-area Republican, says the last time Pennsylvania’s wiretap law was updated was 1998.

“Our statute is stuck in the days of princess rotary phones. It’s time to move to the days of the iPhone.”

But opponents say the bill will greatly increase the surveillance capabilities of both government and civilians by, among other things, creating multiple exceptions to current law requiring the consent of all parties in a conversation in order to be recorded, such as when a person believes there’s a chance to get evidence of a serious crime.

“This a major addition to prosecutorial power,” Philadelphia Democrat Mark Cohen says. “And it’s a major erosion of privacy.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.