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Cops To Congress: We Need Logs of Americans' Text Messages 342

Dainsanefh tips a CNET report about a number of law enforcement groups who have put forth a proposal to the U.S. Senate to require wireless providers to keep logs of subscriber text messages for a minimum of two years. "As the popularity of text messages has exploded in recent years, so has their use in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. 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.' 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, said 'all such records should be retained for two years.' 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. Along with the police association, other law enforcement groups making the request to the Senate include the National District Attorneys' Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, DeWitt said."
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Cops To Congress: We Need Logs of Americans' Text Messages

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:45PM (#42183175)


  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:46PM (#42183193)
    No we wont. We may SAY we will, but we cant be bothered.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:54PM (#42183319)
    How about, "Sure thing, but you need a warrant to access them"?
  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:00PM (#42183413)

    The police normally only investigate crimes after they have already happened so they need to get evidence from the time period that the crime happened in.

    I agree with you that they should need to get a warrant, much like they have to to get your phone records, but I think that they should be allowed to get text messages that are less than one month old, but beyond one month they should only get a notice that a text happened, but not the actual message.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:12PM (#42183601)
    I won't even say I will. If I have something super secret to say, I'll do it face to face or find something more secure than texts.

    Still not a fucking reason to give up an ounce of privacy. Crime is low. I don't see any evidence that the police can't manage to keep order without reading our SMS messages from the past two years.
  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:18PM (#42183711)

    The problem isn't granting them access with a warrant. The problem is that they are trying to induce storage for no other reason than to maintain a POTENTIAL evidence database.

    Why should there be a requirement to maintain these messages? Should there be a requirement to make a copy of every letter that passes through the post office and maintain it for x months? Of course not, because such a copy isn't necessary to transmit the letter.

    I hate that people treat the default for all Rights these days in the manner of: None, unless proven otherwise.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nialin ( 570647 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:21PM (#42183747)
    Your phone doesn't record and retain your voice calls, if it did, you bet your sweet ass they'd be going after a more lengthy history of voice communiques.

    It's default that most phones save messages, and because it's convenient for a large majority of users. Due to this, phones record innumerable amounts of texts; smartphones especially.

    Change how the phone works, and you change the expectation of content delivery, archival, and investigation.
  • Libraries Too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheAngryMob ( 49125 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:22PM (#42183767) Homepage

    I like the fact that my library (and most others) destroy records of checkouts after you return a book so that the information can't be used in an investigation or trial.

    Just because I read some Karl Marx, doesn't make me a commie. Likewise, just because I texted a quote from the Koran doesn't make me a terrorist.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:26PM (#42183825) Homepage Journal

    it would be unrealistic to record every phone call

    I disagree. The capacity of communications networks increases over time, but the user base of voice does not increase as fast because it's already hit saturation. Say there are 300 million cell phone subscribers in a market, and each spends 1000 minutes on the phone per month, and each call is recorded at 8 kilobits per second. 300,000,000*1000*60*8/8 is only 18 terabytes per month. What's the total size in bytes of video uploaded to, say, YouTube per month?

  • by Paran ( 28208 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:29PM (#42183867) Homepage
    Get a warrant, intercept them realtime. Next they'll want recordings of conversations to be saved for X years. If a judge thinks a person is worth surveillance, then fine, but my past communications shouldn't be archived "just in case I'm a criminal".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:44PM (#42184103)

    Because warrants today are trivial, meaningless documents, except for the ridiculously wealthy. The average Joe doesn't know how to or have the means to hire somebody that can fight cases on procedural grounds, which results in a system that can be abused 99% of the time without repercussion... and you'd be a fool to think that the police do not both know about and take advantage of this.

    In a system where you are entitled to only so much justice as you can afford, it is in our best interest to restrict whenever possible the powers of the police and the judiciary.

  • Re:Catch 22: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorzek ( 647352 ) <> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:58PM (#42184285) Homepage Journal

    Then you were denied a clearance for an obvious lack of community ties. Stuff like that is important, because if you're going to be trusted with sensitive information, your superiors will want to be sure you have "something to lose," like your family and friends back home. If you are a non-entity with no clear motives and no attachments to other people, what's to stop you from selling everything you know to the highest bidder?

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @05:23PM (#42184605) Journal

    Except if only 1 out of 10,000 is using encryption, guess who is getting red flagged? the 1 in 10,000. Its called a chilling effect, look it up. These aren't the keystone cops ya know, they generally know how exactly to word that shit so they can get away with doing pretty much whatever, hell its why they have laws like resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, its because these are "catch all" laws that they can use on anybody at any time. After all, who decides what is disorderly? And of course they can use resisting even when they have no valid reason to arrest you in the first place, so they get to do what they want and you can't say shit.

    I would urge everyone to watch The end of America [] by Naomi Wolf where she lays out step by step, using historical cases, how a free society becomes non free. BTW she is now on the NSA watchlists for daring to talk about constitutional rights, can't have that now. She argues there are ways to stop it but I would counter short of violent revolution it is inevitable, with the propaganda power of the mass media and the ability to get these laws through by either slipping them in on an unaware populace or targeting them at "the other" that no one will dare defend, terrorists, pedos, they can get pretty much any police powers they desire and then the laws will simply be widened until they can use it on anybody.

    As some law professors pointed out a couple of years back you ARE a criminal, and so am I, and them, and your family, because they have managed to get so many vaguely worded laws on the books that simply going through your daily lives you break probably a dozen laws a day, laws that could get you anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years per charge. the ONLY reason these laws haven't been used against you is they simply haven't had a reason to, but if they can spy on 10,000 and can't spy on only 1 out of that 10,000? Well then time to dust those laws off huh?

    While I think Ayn Rand was total batshit even the crazy can have a moment of truth, and her idea that to the government ALL are criminals, its only a question of the charges, is pretty damned spot on. You can protest, write your congress critter, in the end they'll just tack this to the end of some bill at 3 AM and run it through.

  • Re:Catch 22: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @05:47PM (#42184949)

    Polygraphs aren't used as lie-detectors (by any one competent). They're used to trick people into confessing (like all interrogation techniques).

    When I was at LANL (2006) they didn't require them for clearance (and most of the cleared staff scientists I knew outright stated they would have refused them for exactly the reason you point out), but they did offer it as an option for "expedited clearance."

  • Re:Catch 22: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @06:07PM (#42185277)

    You didn't scare them, they don't give a shit about you. You were just item 17 on that day's list, and they had no problem at all checking the "Fucked" column next to your number.

    On the other hand, you do post a lot here. Maybe they looked for, I don't know, a minute or two, and came up with gems like these from your posts;
    "All I can do with knives is maim and injure"
    "These weapons do not suit my purposes; I need greater options. I do not make threats; I take action."

    Or THIS one, they just keep getting better!
    "In a civilian clash with the military, the military loses."

    You're not a blank, not a cipher - you're not the Nowhere Man. You're a fucking loon.

  • Re:Catch 22: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Razgorov Prikazka ( 1699498 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @06:36PM (#42185617)
    UID 723572 doesn't seem to hide anything imho. He is just very conscience about his position in a world where both the government and corporate entities want to know ALL there is about EVERYONE. He probably prefers to talk personally rather than SMS/tweet/FB/chat everything to the entire world, and I salute him for it, for he is right.
    Somehow western societies (both in Yurp and Yankeeland) these day's think you are a weirdo if you like your privacy.
    The "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"-card is played far to easy, just as the "we need to do this to fight terrorists/paedophiles"-card. (respectively Yankeeland and Yurp in case you wondered) Do you, as a /. reader, REALLY believe terrorists and paedophiles use facebook to achieve their goals? Really? I surely hope not. So why does the government have to be able to access that?
    The exception here is Germany, but than again they have had some experience with the government wanting to know a little bit to much about its civilians (Gestapo / Stasi, in case you were puzzled a bit again). The most important tool a government has to control its people is data. And if you think things like that wont happen these day's I guess you go and do a history course... ...Or go and live in North Korea for a while...

    While you're there say hi to the guys of the SSD for me, will you! :-)

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas