Police Ask Congress for Access to YOUR Text Messages!
George Orwell’s 1984 is less fictional every year.The Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which represents the 63 largest metro areas in the U.S., has requested Congress pass legislation requiring your SMS (text) message records be kept on file for at least two years “in case they’re needed for future criminal investigations!”
CNET reported Tuesday:
“a constellation of law enforcement groups has asked the U.S. Senate to require that wireless companies retain that information, warning that the lack of a current federal requirement ‘can hinder law enforcement investigations.'”
The use of text message records in criminal cases has exploded, especially since 2009. CNET reports that in Michigan a staggering 626,000-plus messages were turned over to law enforcement for one case. Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the police association, is asking that major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile be required to retain the records for at least two years.
Some carriers, including Verizon, retain the messages for a brief period of time while others, such as T-Mobile, have no retention at all.
U.S. Cellular says that in the past five years it has received 103,000 requests in the form of subpoenas, court orders and search warrants regarding customers accounts and usage.
While we certainly support law enforcement in their efforts to fight crime, we also oppose this measure. It is all too easy in our information age for such personal data to be misused or lost. And with identity theft at an all-time high, the less personal information floating in the “cloud” the better.
It also comes down to the rights of privacy. Regardless of the reason, nobody has the right to gain access to our personal texts, phone call records or other personal data without a specific, legally-mandated reasons. This two-year request implies the perception that all Americans are guilty until proven innocent.
Maybe we need to start using carrier pigeons…