There are websites dedicated to the fact that we sometimes send text messages we aren't exactly proud of.
Thankfully...we can delete them, usually sometime after we explain to the recipient that it was the booze talking/texting and not us.
But if some state and local law enforcement agencies get their way...Congress may act to require wireless providers to hold onto those textual masterpieces for up to two years.
CNET has learned 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."
According to the report, they want an "SMS retention requirement" to be "considered" during congressional discussions over updating a 1986 privacy law for the new digital era. It's a move that could complicate debate over the measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians.
With the use of text messaging exploding in recent years, so has their use in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. According to CNET, they have been introduced as evidence in armed robbery, cocaine distribution, and wire fraud prosecutions.
In one 2009 case in Michigan, wireless provider SkyTel turned over the contents of 626,638 SMS messages, a figure described by a federal judge as "staggering."
Some providers, like Verizon, retain the contents of SMS messages for a brief period of time, while others like T-Mobile do not store them at all.
"We would oppose any mandatory data retention mandate as part of ECPA reform," Christopher Calabrese told CNET. Calabrese is a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
That proposal is "a different kettle of fish -- it doesn't belong in this discussion," he says.
Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which represents the 63 largest U.S. police forces including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, told CNET that "all such records should be retained for two years."
Do you think wireless providers should be forced to keep text messages for up to two years in case the police need to use them in an investigation?