Suffolk lawmakers table bill regulating prepaid cell phones

Suffolk lawmakers tabled tonight a crime-fighting initiative aimed at enabling police to track down the owners of prepaid cell phones by requiring identification to purchase

HAUPPAUGE - Suffolk lawmakers tabled tonight a crime-fighting initiative aimed at enabling police to track down the owners of prepaid cell phones by requiring identification to purchase the phones.

During a public hearing earlier today, many activists argued against the plan, saying that it would hurt innocent people.

According to immigrant advocate Omar Henriquez, of the Workplace Project, regulating prepaid cell phones would make them more difficult to obtain, which would harm not only the immigrant community, but also low-income Suffolk residents who can't afford a national carrier.

Legislator Kate Browning (D-Shirley), who proposed the bill in an effort to combat gangs and drug dealers, says she was compelled to table the legislation after hearing from several critics, including advocates for victims of domestic violence.

The bill would've required those who purchase prepaid cell phones to present two forms of identification. The information provided by the customers would be kept on record by the store owners for three years.

Browning says she will make amendments to the bill before bringing it back to the floor for a vote in two weeks.

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