Donatucci’s 911 privacy bill awaits governor’s signature to become law

HARRISBURG, May 17 – A measure authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, that would better protect the identity of victims, witnesses and other people placing 911 calls is on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously voted to concur in Senate amendments of Donatucci’s H.B. 1310.

“The passage of this bill demonstrates that the legislature is taking the right to privacy very seriously,” Donatucci said. “No one should feel hesitant to call 911 because they fear retribution or are concerned their private information will be made public. Think about a domestic violence victim who flees to a friend’s house and calls 911. Their abuser shouldn’t be able to find out where they are calling from and harm them even further. This legislation would give people peace of mind when they find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having to call 911.”

Under H.B. 1310, in response to a request under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, a public safety access point is prohibited from releasing the name, telephone number and home address of victims, witnesses or people calling 911. The only case in which this information would be made available is if the 911 center or a court determines it is in the public’s best interest to have such information.

“We know that a person who calls 911 is likely a victim or witness, but that’s not always the case,” Donatucci said. “This legislation would protect victims and witnesses, in addition to the caller, so that this basic right to privacy extends to all attached to the incident involving 911 calls.”

The location of the incident would still be public information, unless the location is the home address of the caller, victim or witness, or the disclosure of the location would compromise the identity of the caller, victim or witness. The street block identifier, cross street or mile marker nearest the incident location would also still be made public.

“The legislation would still provide the public the opportunity to assess the response times of our emergency service professionals,” Donatucci said. “I am proud that our legislature was able to pass a bill that balances the public’s right to be informed of the safety of their communities with the right to privacy.”