George Orwell painted a very scary picture in his novel, 1984. The book was meant as a warning, a dire picture that he wanted people to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, it looks more and more like some people want to use it as a handbook for how to create their own idea of a perfect state.
The latest is from some law enforcement groups that are asking the United States Senate for a law that will require cellular service providers to store logs of your SMS text messages for two years. You know, just in case they want need those for future criminal cases:
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.
Now, note that they’re already making cases as it is. The problem is that they’re not making enough of them apparently. Look at some of those charges. While some of them are clearly criminal, even by the most libertarian definition of a crime, they all should require a bit more evidence than some text messages, right?
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not overly fond of making things easier and easier for the police to prosecute me because of something that happens to be in a text message from a year earlier. After all, text messages don’t convey tone of voice, body language, or anything else that might show the real meaning of the words they’re seeing.
But so long as we make life easier for police, who cares about such triffling concerns?