March 25, 2013

More privacy intrusion not wanted

Most of us want privacy. We don’t want prying eyes looking into our business whether it be in our back yards, listening to our telephone conversations or examining our mail, and that includes traditional “snail mail” and today’s emails.

For the most part we are protected from the prying eyes of government into our private affairs. It takes court orders, warrants and subpoenas to tap our phones or intercept correspondence. “Emergency situations” must be proven in most cases for a judge to OK such eavesdropping.

But recently law enforcement groups ranging from the U.S. Justice Department to local police departments asked Congress to pass legislation that would force wireless phone carriers to save every text message customers send, reports CNET, an online news service.

“Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity,” Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told Congress.

The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act was enacted to extend government restrictions on wire taps from telephone calls to include transmissions of electronic data by computer.

The act has been met with criticism through the years, including its failure to protect all communications and consumer records, due to the law being outdated with the current way in which people share, store and use information. Under the ECPA, it is relatively easy for a governmental agency to demand service providers hand over personal consumer data that has been stored on their servers.

According to CNET, phone carriers retain text message info for varying amounts of time. In 2010, some did not store the contents of text messages. Verizon did for up to five days and Virgin Mobile kept them for 90 days. The carriers generally kept metadata such as the phone numbers associated with the text for 90 days to 18 months, CNET reports. AT&T kept that info as long as seven years.

Demanding that phone service providers must maintain the billions of emails on file for law enforcement seems extremely costly and an unweldy burden on the carriers. Lawmakers could decide that each business should keep text messages and bear the brunt of those costs.

The intrusive demand also fails to make a compelling policy or legal rationale for text messages having less privacy protection.

Electronic messages should have the same protections as your phone calls or the contents of your desk drawer.

If the police, or anyone, requests text messages from your business or even your home, wouldn’t you like to know about it?


Text Only
  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping with Book Blast betters the community

    The school test results are in, and students in Whitfield and Murray counties mostly improved from a year ago, mirroring or exceeding average scores of their peers.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mark Millican: Guns are already everywhere

    Though it happened over 30 years ago, the image is still vivid.

    July 22, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Former officer works overtime improperly

    Stephen F. Hall has pleaded guilty to theft by deception and falsifying a government record.

    July 22, 2014

  • Dalton council should seek answers

    Judicial elections in this area are usually pretty staid. In fact, they are generally nonexistent, since most judges run unopposed.

    July 21, 2014

  • Letter: Something to think about

    It has been better than four months now since Malaysia Flight 370 went missing. During that time we have heard all kinds of speculation, conjecture and opinions as to what happened to it. The only certainties to emerge are that the Malaysians fumbled the ball early on and there are some understandably distressed loved ones left to deal with their losses.

    July 21, 2014