How long do the carriers store text messages?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by jent, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. jent macrumors 6502a

    jent

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #1
    I was just curious how long the carriers store the contents of text messages in the U.S. Do they permanently store information like phone number texted, date, and time? Is there any evidence that they in fact do store the content of text messages sent for more than seventy-two hours or so?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    I would say they store them for a month at least. Text messages and call histories are a big part of forensics nowadays. Last week I saw a program about tricky murders in Finland (one case per episode) and SMSs were a crucial part of the investigation. From the SMSs, the police found out that a guy owned several grands to the victim and in the end, that was the motive of the murder.

    I don't know if the laws are different there but storing the SMSs can actually be a good thing.
     
  3. jent thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jent

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #3
    I'm more just curious if there has been evidence that the typical response of "we only store them for a few days while we ensure delivery" is not always true. In a lot of crime investigations, it looks like the police look at the text messages stored on the phone itself.
     
  4. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #4
    I'm not sure if they store the actual text of the message or not, but I know I can go to AT&T's online account management and see the time and number texted on my bills going back at least a year.
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #5
    At least in this case, they got the data from the operator as they clearly said it. IIRC they got about a month worth of texts because they said there was something like 500 SMSs between the suspect and the victim. And yes, in this case the actual content of the SMS was stored as well, not just the date and number.

    Again, this is Finland, not US, but I would still say they store them for more than a few days.
     
  6. jent thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jent

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #6
    I understand that any retained data can be subpoenaed, but this would contradict the notion that text messages are not stored for more than a few days. Like you mention, it's two different countries being compared. Ever hear of a similar case in the U.S.?
     
  7. b0blndsy macrumors 6502

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    Nov 9, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois

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