March 19, 2013
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans’ confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today.
The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers to record and store customers’ SMS messages — a controversial idea akin to requiring them to surreptitiously record audio of their customers’ phone calls — in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.
“Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity,” Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will tell Congress, according to a copy (PDF) of his prepared remarks. “In some cases, this means that critical evidence is lost. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking.”