The Congress has some decisions to make regarding changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Recently, a congressional panel sat down to discuss revisions to the act, one such proposal requiring carriers to record and store all of your text messages. This proposal was put forth by none other than law enforcement itself, so text messages can be easily accessed if someone ever comes under investigation.
Currently, carriers store text messages for a very limited time. For example, Verizon keeps text messages for three to five days, Sprint twelve days, US Cellular three to five days, and AT&T doesn’t store them at all.
Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says “text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking.” He may be correct, but should text messages fall under the same rule which allows email older than 180 days to be obtained without a warrant? It’s a bit of a grey area and text messages aren’t the only communication mentioned.
The Justice Department is working to put forth new proposals that give law enforcement more power over email messages, Twitter direct messages, and Facebook messages. Tech giants such as Google, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook are also putting their foot in, since these proposals would impact them directly.
Whatever changes are made, this recent hearing with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner at the helm is yet another fight in the battle of defending our personal freedoms.