Do the Police Want to Read Your Text Messages?

By Rich Steeves December 03, 2012

The text message turns 20 today, and what is a better way to celebrate your 20th birthday than to run afoul of the police? (well, presumably NOT running afoul of police would be better. Also? CAKE). But if police officers have their way, then Congress will decree that providers must hold onto our private text messages for two years.

That’s right. AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and others would be forced to hold onto every shopping list you have sent your spouse, every silly emoticon you have created for your friends, and every late-night declaration of love you have made to your old flame that you found on Facebook. Yeah, that sounds like an idea that hovers between annoying and embarrassing. Or, if I happen to be an international drug smuggler or something (I am not), it can be really, really bad news.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The US Senate is planning to update a 1986 privacy law, bringing it in line with modern technology. And an organization known as the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, which represents law enforcement offices from the 63 largest cities in the country, including New York, Chicago, LA and Miami, is lobbying Congress to require wireless providers to hold onto text messages for two years. Verizon, for example, holds onto them for a time, but T-Mobile does not store them at all.

In recent years, text messages have been used in criminal and civil cases ranging from robbery to drug smuggling to wire fraud. Other organizations are joining the MCPCA’s plea, including the National District Attorneys’ Association, the National Sheriff’s Association and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies. For its part, the American Civil Liberties Union feels that the storage of text messages requires a lengthy discussion.

While these records might certainly help law enforcement agencies track down and prosecute bad guys, the proposed policy certain raises privacy issues. It remains to be seen whether Congress takes the recommendation to heart.

Until then, I am going to conduct all of my personal affairs via smoke signals. And, cancel any plans I have to break the law, naturally…




Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Web Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Study: Software 'Robots' Improving Business Operations

By: Casey Houser    3/26/2015

A recent study from Cognizant, a provider of information technology and business process outsourcing services, concludes that software "robots" are ha…

Read More

Google Fiber Moves Beyond the Novelty Phase

By: Tara Seals    3/26/2015

Google Fiber is gearing up to expand to one more metro area-Salt Lake City. The Utah capital will join the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-D…

Read More

Global Pay-TV Market to Rocket to 1.1 Billion Subs in 2020

By: Tara Seals    3/26/2015

Much has been made of the cord-cutting phenomenon, brought on by an increasing adoption of over-the-top (OTT) video services like Netflix and Amazon P…

Read More

YouTube Announces Plans to Revamp Live Streaming

By: Dominick Sorrentino    3/25/2015

With March Madness in full swing, and millions of viewers turning to online streaming to watch the games, YouTube's newest announcement could not have…

Read More

Why the Apple Watch Will Transform the Enterprise

By: TMCnet Special Guest    3/25/2015

As we gear up to the much-anticipated release of the Apple Watch, one wonders how the enterprise could potentially integrate it. Smartwatches in gener…

Read More