CA Pub Util Code Section 588


Notwithstanding any regulation, tariff, opinion, or interim opinion of the Public Utilities Commission, or any other provision of law, an inspector or investigator, as defined in Section 830.1 of the Penal Code, who is employed in the office of a district attorney may request and shall receive from telephone, gas, and electric public utilities customer information limited to the full name, date of birth, social security number, address, prior address, forwarding address, place of employment, and date of service instituted, terminated, or suspended by, utility customers to the extent the information is stored within the utility records and computer data bases. However, in no case shall information be released disclosing customer usage of the services provided by the utility without a court order or subpoena.


In order to protect the privacy interest of utility customers, a request to a public utility for customer information pursuant to this section shall meet the following requirements:


The requested information is relevant and material to an investigation pursuant to Sections 3130, 3131, 3132, 3133, and 3134 of the Family Code concerning the kidnapping, abduction, concealment, detention, or retention of a minor child and that the inspector or investigator requesting the information has a reasonable, good faith belief that the utility customer information is needed to assist the inspector or investigator in the location or recovery of a minor child or abductor, coconspirator or aider and abettor of the continuing crime of child abduction or concealment.


Only inspectors and investigators as defined in Section 830.1 of the Penal Code, who are employed in the office of a district attorney whose names have been submitted to the utility in writing by a district attorney’s office, may request and receive customer and customer service information pursuant to this section. Each district attorney’s office shall ensure that each public utility has at all times a current list of the names of inspectors and investigators authorized to request and receive customer and customer service information. Each district attorney’s office shall immediately notify the utility in writing and withdraw the names of inspectors and investigators from the authorized list who no longer have a need for the access.


This section does not authorize inspectors and investigators to obtain any utility customer information, other than that authorized by this section, without proper service of process as required by law.


The district attorney’s office requesting and receiving utility information shall ensure its confidentiality. At no time shall any information obtained pursuant to this section be disclosed or used for any purpose other than to assist in the location or recovery of a person or persons specified in paragraph (1).


The inspector or investigator requesting utility information authorized for release by this section shall make a record on a form created and maintained by the district attorney’s office, which shall include the name of the utility customer about whom the inquiry was made, the name of the inspector or investigator making the inquiry, the date of inquiry, the name of the utility, the utility employee to whom the request was made, and the information that was requested and received.


The inspector or investigator requesting information pursuant to this section shall prepare and sign, under penalty of perjury, a written affidavit of probable cause, which shall be contained on a form created by the Attorney General’s office in consultation with telephone, gas, and electric utilities. The form shall be retained by the utility for a period of one year and shall contain a statement of all the facts known to the inspector or investigator that support the existence of all of the requirements of this section. The affidavit shall also contain a statement of exigent circumstances, explaining why the inspector or investigator could not seek and obtain a search warrant, court order, or other court process for the production of the information sought.


No public utility, or official or employee thereof, shall be subject to criminal or civil liability for the release of customer information in reasonable reliance on an affidavit appearing on its face to be valid, and which was submitted by a person whose name appears on the current authorization list, as required in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b). However, any person who willfully violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, pursuant to Section 2112.5.


The utility receiving the request for customer information may charge the requesting district attorney’s office a reasonable fee for the search and release of the requested information and for the storage of the required forms.
Last Updated

Aug. 19, 2023

§ 588’s source at ca​.gov