Before closing the 2011 session, Rhode Island state lawmakers passed a bill allowing law enforcement officials to obtain customer information from Internet providers without obtaining a warrant. This piece of legislation is based on the 2001 Patriot Act, and has received both support and criticism from different groups in Rhode Island.
Supporters claim the new law will aid in the investigations of computer crimes like cyber-stalking, child pornography, wire fraud, and other Internet crimes. With this ability to investigate suspects without going through the time-consuming process of obtaining a warrant from a judge, supporters of this legislation argue that Rhode Island law enforcement officials will now have a necessary advantage in protecting the public from being Internet crime victims.
Rhode Island opponents of this legislation echo the opposition of the federal Patriot Act, claiming these laws infringe on the protected Constitutional rights to privacy afforded to American citizens. Opponents of this new Internet crimes bill include the local chapter of the ACLU and Congressional Representative David N. Cicilline.