Coming soon: Cops given access to all your text messages

Friday, December 07, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: text messages, cops, surveillance

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(NaturalNews) No doubt due in large part to the brazen, unchallenged lawlessness and lack of constitutional integrity demonstrated by a succession of presidential administrations, local and state-level law enforcement agencies are now beginning to look more like their federal brethren as they goose-step towards tyranny.

The latest maneuver involves an effort by several police organizations to have Congress require wireless providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others to record store information about users' private text messages for up to two years, CNET reported recently.

The technology website said a letter outlining the suggestion, which was submitted to the Senate, would "require that wireless companies retain that information, warning that the lack of a current federal requirement 'can hinder law enforcement investigations'" (no word on whether these "law enforcement" agencies were aware that the Fourth Amendment has not been repealed).

The police groups want an SMS retention requirement to be "considered" during upcoming discussions in Congress over updating a 1986 law dealing with privacy to reflect the modern cloud computing era - "a move that could complicate debate over the measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians," the website reported.

'All records should be retained for two years'

With the explosion in popularity of text messages over the past few years has come the use of them in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. Texts have been introduced as evidence in cases of armed robbery, wire fraud, cocaine distribution and other prosecutions.

In a 2009 Michigan case, SkyTel, a wireless provider, handed over 626,638 texts, a number the judge in the case called "staggering."

Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, representing the 62 largest police departments in the country, to include New York City, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, said "all such records should be retained for two years."

Currently, some providers, such as Verizon, keep the contents of SMS messages for a short period of time, while others - like T-Mobile - don't store them at all.

Other law enforcement groups, besides the police organization, that are 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.

According to a statement posted on the MCCPA's website, the organization never said it never put a two-year time requirement on any new privacy legislation, "just that the legislation needs to consider this issue as it has law enforcement implications."

According to the group's letter, which was sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the panel's ranking member:

We have reviewed the amendments proposed by Senator Leahy to H.R. 2471 regarding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). We continue to have concerns relating to the proposed reforms and other issues that are not addressed in the proposal that we believe ought to be included in any effort to update the law. At stake is the ability of law enforcement to conduct effective and efficient investigations to apprehend criminals.

'Join me in supporting Americans' privacy'

In a previous letter by the MCCPA sent in September, "the crime scene of the 21st century is filled with electronic records and other digital evidence." The group also wrote that "electronic communications records often hold the key to solving the case."

"They also hold the key to ruling out suspects and exonerating the innocent," the organization wrote. "Our ability to access those records quickly and reliably under the law is fundamental to our ability to carry out our sworn duties to protect the public and ensure justice for victims of crime."

Law enforcement officers also swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States as part of their "sworn duties" - without forcing citizens to choose between sacrificing their rights for a token promise of security.

In November, Leahy promised there would be no warrantless access to email for federal agencies in legislation he is writing to update electronic privacy laws after first including it.

"I hope that all members of the Committee will join me in supporting the effort in Congress to update this law to protect Americans' privacy," he said in a statement.


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