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U.S. law enforcements want carriers to store people’s text messages

How would you feel if your text messages were stored by carriers for two or more years?  Police and other law enforcement organizations are seeking to have this measure reviewed and discussed by law makers.

If you’ve ever seen a law enforcement officer recite the Miranda rights, you’ll immediately realize that the best way to stay out of trouble (initially) is to just keep your mouth shut.  That said, keeping your mouth shut probably won’t be enough, because in the digital age what you ‘say’ has been extended to the text messages, emails, and other means of electronic messaging.

Over 2 trillion SMS messages were sent in 2011 in the U.S. — about 6 billion messages a day.  Currently, carriers aren’t required to record and store what people are texting to each other, but that might change soon as law enforcements have been lobbying to convince the U.S. Congress to amend a privacy act  which will require the carriers to do so. 

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 plays a huge role in governing what law enforcement may or may not do with people’s data transmitted via electronics.  However, the ECPA is considered by many as ‘outdated’ and in need of revisions.  Since text messaging has become a normal method of communication amongst many people, law enforcements are seeking more ways of accessing those private data. 

As aforementioned, police (among others) wants cellular carriers to store people’s text messages for retrieval in case they’re warranted for an investigation.  If you think that a point on your driving record lasts too long, then how about the text messages you send being stored for two years by carriers—this is exactly what some of the largest U.S. police forces want.

Major U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint all have different message storage policies, which range from no messages stored to messages being kept for several months or years.

People seeking to have their privacy preserved in the digital age are being met with local authorities seeking to monitor what is going on in cyber space.  There has to be a balance between the two, but for now both parties are vying to have the law on their side.

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