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    Cops Want Cell Phone Providers to Store Your Texts

    Written by

    Arikia Millikan

    Image: Arlen, Flickr

    Yesterday in a congressional hearing to discuss updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, cops lobbied to force cell phone providers to keep records of everyone’s text messages.

    “Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity,” Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told the congressional subcommittee via prepared remarks (PDF).

    Internet behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Twitter want the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) updated to give them greater functionality in the world of cloud computing. But law enforcement groups like the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, the National District Attorneys' Association, and the National Sheriffs' Association have a different agenda. If cell phone companies recorded all text messages, they say, it would be easier to obtain evidence from criminals.

    CNET, which first reported on the law enforcement lobbying, cited an example of how a stored text message contributed to a murder conviction in Rhode Island. After submitting a subpoena to T-mobile for a suspected murderer’s cell phone logs and finding they didn’t store them, law enforcement officials then tried Verizon, which did store them. They were then able to obtain the incriminating text reading: “Wat if I got 2 take him 2 da hospital wat do I say and dos marks on his neck omg.”