For your eyes only: Law enforcement wants access to your private messages

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Here's something to think about the next time you send a text: law enforcement agencies are asking Congress for better access to your private text messages.

They say it can help with investigations.

But others say it's nothing more than an invasion of privacy.

It's the simple messages to friends, family, coworkers – many of which you wouldn't want anyone else to read.

But several national associations that represent law enforcement are pushing Congress to make your cell phone company store your text messages for two years, just in case they need them for future investigations.

For many it's seen as another example of government involving itself in private affairs.

"One more step into just total control into our lives," said Leslie Brown. "I think that's crap. I know that is not a nice word but I just think that's more government control, it's big brother."

Proponents say it's nothing new. With court orders, law enforcement can already get access to anything that's available from phone records to e-mails.

The problem is text messages aren't recorded on servers like your e-mail.

According to the ACLU, most of the top major cell phone carriers don't keep records of your text messages for very long. And that's the reason behind the push: to make phone companies record them for two year, just in case.

"It's an infringement on our rights and our privacy and, eventually, it will lead to an Orwellian thought crime," Matt Cooley said.

Cooley sees it as possibly another step in government control made famous by George Orwell's book "1984."

"I consider that private and a text message to another person, the only people that should be involved is you and the other party," he said.

If approved, law enforcement officials would still need to get a court order to see your text messages.

Privacy groups say you could end up footing the bill.  Wireless companies could pass the cost of saving those text messages onto customers. 

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