Law Enforcement Wants Congress to Legislate Capture and Storage of Text Messages

Sections: Cellular Providers, Communications, Lifestyle, Mobile

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Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives

Civil libertarians arise! This latest proposal by law enforcement to store text messages is not going to make you happy.

According to a story on CNet:

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans’ confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today.

While I see where law enforcement is coming from, I think this is over reaching. I found this quote by Richard Littlehale of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to be particularly chilling:

“Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity. In some cases, this means that critical evidence is lost. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking.”

I’m sure that’s true. But does that mean that we should capture and store everything for an indefinite period of time? I’m not so sure about that. Yes, I get that almost everything we do and say is being monitored in some way. The ads I see in Gmail are proof of that, but this gives me the creeps. I just went back through some texts to and from my 21 year old son. No, nothing criminal, but certainly there are some things I’d rather some police officer couldn’t casually trawl through. If someone wanted to create keyword searches of text archives, yeah, I think some of those texts would pop up.

Think my fear is ridiculous? Littlehale also wants to revise language to allow “emergency” access to text archives without a search warrant. That’s a little scary.

Want to sound off in the comments? Feel free. But I’d also suggest contacting your congresspeople and letting them know how you feel about these proposals.

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