Law Enforcement Petitions Senate: Require SMS Be Stored For At Least Two Years
If law enforcement has its way, wireless providers will be required to record and store private text messages for at least two years, should they be needed as evidence in a future criminal investigation.
According to CNET, a group of law enforcement agencies have petitioned the US Senate to require wireless companies to retain SMS information, warning that the lack of such a federal requirement “can hinder law enforcement investigations.”
The Senate plans to discuss updating a 1986 privacy law and possibly update it to correspond with the cloud computing era. Law enforcement agencies request that the SMS retention requirement be included in the discussion—a request that could diminish civil libertarian support of the issue.
In recent years, criminal investigations have relied more heavily on text messages. They have been cited as evidence in cases involving armed robbery, drug distribution and wire fraud, to name a few. Currently, some wireless providers, such as Verizon, store SMS message contents for a brief period, while other providers such as T-Mobile do not store them at all.
The Major Cities Chiefs Police Association’s request is supported by the National District Attorney’s Association, The National Sheriff’s Association and the State Criminal Investigative Agencies.
“This issue is not addressed in the current proposal before the committee and yet it will become even more important in the future,” the groups warn in a statement.
An attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, spoke out against the request.
“These data retention policies serve one purpose: to require companies to keep databases on their customers so law enforcement can fish for evidence,” Hanni Fakhoury said. “And this would seem to be done against the wishes of the providers, presumably, since…some of the providers don’t keep SMS messages at all.”
[Image via Shutterstock]
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