December 3, 2012
US cell phone service providers could be required to log personal text messages for upwards of two years if a proposal submitted by a group of law enforcement professionals can successfully plead with Congress.
According to a report published this week by Declan McCullagh of CNet, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association (MCCPA) has asked Congress to consider adding a provision to an electronic privacy bill awaiting vote that would make holding onto text logs mandatory for the country’s telecom providers.
In recent weeks, the antiquated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) has been in the news due to congressional efforts to update the legislation to reflect the growing nature of the Internet. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment to the act that, if passed by Congress, will require law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant to collect personal emails older than 180 days. Currently, only an easy-to-obtain administrative court order is needed to access private emails, meaning any archived correspondence contained on the digital cloud can be collected by the police without producing any probable cause to a judge. Should the MCCPA have their way, however, efforts to make it harder for law enforcement to eavesdrop on emails would be cancelled out by the widespread collection of text messages.