FORT MYERS, Fla. - Several law enforcement groups are trying to convince Congress to require cellular providers to store your texts for up to two years.
Americans are text-a-holics, sending and receiving more than two trillion texts a year. As the popularity of texting has exploded, so has its use in criminal investigations.
If you've ever thought that no one can read that text you just sent a friend, think again. Every detail is saved by your cellular provider, but usually it's only for a few days.
"In all our cell phones we have records kept of everything we do. That's part of the agreement," said Rob Mason, owner of Rob The Phone Doctor in Fort Myers.
Last month, several law enforcement groups, including the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, The National District Attorney's Association, and the National Sheriff's Association, sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation that would require cell companies to store texts for up to two years. That way, cops could access your texts in case they're needed for a criminal investigation.
"We're already into that and we don't even know it," warns Mason, who says your calls, texts and emails have never really been private.
"We never know when this could benefit us personally. So the fact that it goes on I don't see as a problem," Mason said.
"I think it's important, as long as no one abuses it."
Mark Bonner, a Professor at Ave Maria School of Law, points out the obvious privacy concerns.
"Anyone who has ever read 1984, there comes a time when there's too much pervasive, tightening the screws down too much," Bonner said.
There's also a financial concern. Right now, cellular companies don't have the available space to store trillions of text messages for two years. Which means they would have to build new infrastructure, and the costs would likely be passed on to consumers.
"We would probably see a $40 increase per year in our billing," Mason guess, "but spread over 12 months we probably wouldn't even notice it."
Here's something else you may not know. Police agencies are able to get your emails that are more than six months old, without a search warrant, as long as authorities promise that they are "relevant" to an investigation.