Recording Text Messages

March 8th, 2008 at 7:02 am by David Farrar

The Government is looking at a law change requiring to record and store text messages so can access them with a warrant.

I have some nervousness over this.  It is one thing to have a law which requires telcos to record the content of text messages *after they receive a search warrant targetted at a particular individual. But this is about having the telcos store every single text message we send or receive, so it can then be accessed.

The precedent this would set is that should also keep a copy of every e-mail message you ever send or receive, in case the Police should ever want it.  And then how about also requiring them to keep track of every website you have ever visited.

Telcos and ISPs should co-operate with the Police *after* a warrant has been served requiring or recording of data which a Judge/JP has authorised as necessary for a criminal investigation. But that is very different to having them forced to store personal communications on every NZer, so that law enforcement authorities can access them at some later date if they wish. Why not also have the teclso record every voice call, just in case they are also needed?

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43 Responses to “Recording Text Messages”

  1. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    I went to police to complain about dad4justice@muslim.com threatening to rape my daughter and the filthy cops laughed at me !!!!

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  2. tim barclay (886 comments) says:

    This costs money. The Government should offer some payment for this service. Bet the cunts do not. The cost will probably be in the region of what the Labour Party purloins from the taxpayer to spend on their re-election.

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  3. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    It is deplorable that people can threaten to inflict violence on teenage girls and not be held accountable. What has this country turned into? Be very afraid New Zealanders. Be very afraid, as this country is in the grip of evil !!

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  4. colinm (65 comments) says:

    You get what you vote for…
    The standard answer to this will be, if you don’t have anything to hide you wont have to worry.
    Don’t these people know what privacy is?!
    Sigh, the police have too much power already (along with a few govt depts with more rights to enter your home etc than the police). If this comes to pass watch for an increase in busy bodies whose job it will be to oversee the storing of these txt messages, probably a few “fishing expeditions” to see “whats out there” as well.

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  5. Kirky (2 comments) says:

    all solved quite easily really, what the hell are crims doing with cellphones in the first place??. They are in there to be punished and kept away from society but still get the perks of those who live a fair and honest life. NO cellphones in prisons!

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  6. Fost (99 comments) says:

    And I wonder how long before the Police start searching this new source of information for crimes that could be committed? 1984 anyone?

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  7. colinm (65 comments) says:

    Kirky, I’m guessing this is aimed at all txt messages, not just txt messages from contraband cell phones in prisons. The crims aren’t allowed to have cell phones, perhaps more effort needs to go into finding and confiscating them.
    Fost, that’s what fishing expeditions are. Find something in the database, make up a plausible warrant application and bob’s your uncle, simple.
    Edited to reply to Fost

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  8. KevOB (262 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t trust warrants issued by JP’s for this. I have seen warrants with rubber stamps being executed and no proof that they were not actually done at the Police Station. All executable warrants should require a judges signature in person.

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  9. Stephen Franks (51 comments) says:

    I’m surprised at your equivocation DPF.

    Law-enforcers should be able to tap and obtain records on normal proof of cause, as for a warrant. They have the power now.

    But it is outrageous to suggest providers must create and hold records as a permanent fishing pool for snoops. We can be sure acces to the pool would be abused.

    Law enforcement should have access to records if the provider happens to be holding them for some proper purpose of their own. The facility is owned by the providers and it is their right to set the terms of use. I would choose one which assured me of privacy, by deleting records within a comforting time.

    But to oblige them to create records for the State needs not a moment’s thought. It is repugnant. It should cause uproar.

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  10. stephenjudd (12 comments) says:

    Well, why not have the Post Office open and photocopy all letters before delivery? That’s perfectly analogous as far as I can tell.

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  11. Zippy Gonzales (485 comments) says:

    The idea of a database of this nature just screams “Hack me!”

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  12. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    I agree that this is ridiculous and an invasion of privacy. Can’t police already tap phones for text messages if they have reason? They must be able to, or how else did they intercept the text messages used in the ‘terrorist raids’ last year?

    This is just another form of control imposed by a Government that wants in on every facet of our lives.

    Orwell was prophetically right, but he’s only out by 24 years.

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  13. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Agree, Stephen Franks. Imagine the uproar if the Bushitler suggested doing such a thing……….

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  14. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Well put, Fletch. Some old letter-writing curmudgeon in Wellington has been saying for years that it would become clear eventually not that Orwell was wrong, but just how much he was out in his date.

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  15. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    This is a premtive asumuption of guilt enabling the government to instruct the police to go on fishing expeditions for them.

    Given their history of attempting to smear political rivals by releasing infomation that is suposedly confidential under the guise of “gosh we really think the public should know about this”.

    The situation is this: Labour have made it illegal to critise them. Labout now want to know what everyone is saying and has said via this type of communication without method of legal approval.

    With labours fodness for retrospective legislation anything you have said can get caught in their net if they choose to redefine their net.

    This is just the political application of this legislation. the criminal aspect is even more wide reaching in their efforts to essentially by-pass all our judicial precents and principals.

    But then pricipal isn;t really labours strong point is it.

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  16. Southern Raider (1,367 comments) says:

    The equipment required to log and store all this information will have a big effect on the economic viability of small telco’s.

    Typical of a Government to put forward an irrational idea without any comprehension of the actual implementation cost to companies.

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  17. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    I’m a little stunned at the people who consider this a financial problem, it’s a privacy issue first & foremost, degrading it to a technical problem is asking for it to be implemented as the cost of storage/CPU continues it’s ever advancing march.
    Time for a new government, this is beyond the pale, the Airport debacle / tax debacle / electoral act debacle / now this, roll on the next election is all I can say.

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  18. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Southern Raider

    The equipment required to log and store all this information will have a big effect on the economic viability of small telco’s.

    The solution is therefore obvious: The peoples telco!

    The govt can buy back Telecom, shut down Vodafone (and any other annoying competition) and the problem is solved. Anybody sending text messages about things like hospital waiting lists can be tracked down and charged with sedition.

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  19. ray (62 comments) says:

    I have been involved in cases where the police have with a warrant accesed the text messages that the Court got to read, so Telecom/Vodofone obviously keep records
    Texts and e-mails should be treated as post cards anyone can read; they sure sunk these birds cases

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  20. Mickey D (84 comments) says:

    Idiots.

    Vodafone and Telecom have been storing txt messages to date. It is their decision to now stop this practice that is concerning the police and prompted their approach to King to legislate against. Just as the Brits and Yanks have allegedly already done.

    King wants the telcos and police to nut out a voluntary arrangement rather than legislate but will look at if pushed. So much for a govt that can’t wait to trample over your privacy rights.

    DPF knows this but fails to post any semblance of reality.

    If txts aren’t kept then the crims have carte blanche means of communication and you know they will use it. You lot really are bright.

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  21. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Mickey D: oh my god. Crims are communicating by txt message, better record everything. Because, you know, they wouldn’t just use a voice call instead. Maybe we should record those too. Actually, lets ban talking to people in private places, the government cannot record what we do there, we might be committing crimes. Or having thoughts that are socially repugnant, or, god forbid, making statements that might be classified as electioneering.

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  22. Ryan Sproull (6,661 comments) says:

    This is a great idea. Of course, we probably technically have the ability to record a few weeks of the nation’s phone conversations as well, digitally. And, of course, if you have a conversation on a public street, that could be recorded with the audio equivalent of security cameras. Just basically have everything any New Zealander has said to each other on record, just in case.

    I mean, if you have a problem with this, doesn’t that just mean you plan on saying something you don’t want others to hear?

    And if you don’t want others to hear, isn’t it probably illegal?

    No one should say anything to anyone that they wouldn’t say to everyone!

    Come on, Kiwis! Let’s work together on this!

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  23. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    Kevin OB said; “All executable warrants should require a judges signature in person.” Yes you are so right, however police can execute search warrants without authorisation from a District Court Judge, Justice of the Peace or Court Registrar. Unfortunately I can supply evidence to prove my point.

    Regarding telecommunication evidence in criminal matters, police already sufficient scope to offer a Notice Of Hearsay as evidence in court proceedings (Section 22 Evidence Act 2006) .The nature of the statement can be business held by Telecom New Zealand.

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  24. itiswhatitis (58 comments) says:

    This smacks of NZ falling in line the US and the UK, two countries heavily wiretapping their citizens. I cant help but see that ALL our personal messages and conversations are being recorded for the “authorities” for future, what “dissent”. This is no conspiracy and Bushco has been hard over the last 7 years to implement complete tracking of every bit of information possible. Even new bills enable “thought crimes” under the new terror acts. So called “thinking” of terror is now punishable with up to life in prison.
    This will inspire you somewhat http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/03/whistleblower-f.html

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  25. Chris Diack (723 comments) says:

    The New Zealand Police seem to want more and more powers – yet the more they get the more incompetent they seem. Look at the scary domestic “terrorists” of last year. Tama Iti! Hello. Hello. This is New Zealand.

    This latest idea is further evidence of absolute law enforcement laziness.

    And oh dear oh dear previously we could reply of Annette King’s common sense to knock this sort of nonsense on the head. But she seems to have lost all common sense since she proposed a law of common sense in electoral matters.

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  26. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    New Zealanders only have themselves to blame for this kind of event. They have time after time after time chosen to elect politicians who are ready to squash personal and civil freedoms under the jackboot of big government. This action by the police is only one facet of the destruction of the individual’s rights base and is primarily underpinned by the NZ’s citizen’s abject submission to the concept of the “collective good”.

    The well was poisoned long ago. The genie is out of the bottle. Trying to restore the precious liberties that were so casually surrendered when NZ turned to collectivism will be a long and bitter struggle.

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  27. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, it will not be too hard, it will be impossible… it is too late to stop us all from being murdered by Muslim fundamentalists.

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  28. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    It could well be impossible. NZer’s have, by lamely submitting to the ideas of these morally bankrupt power seeking politicians, and allowing them to construct a completely dysfunctional education system that downplays global history relating to tyranny and totalitarianism, raised a couple of generations of offspring who have absolutely no idea of what happens when government gets too powerful.

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  29. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    Police act with no accountability as everybody knows the PCA is a toothless tiger and corruption is rife, but who cares eh?

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  30. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    itiswhatitis Add karma Subtract karma +0 Says:
    March 8th, 2008 at 11:44 am

    “This smacks of NZ falling in line the US and the UK, two countries heavily wiretapping their citizens. I cant help but see that ALL our personal messages and conversations are being recorded for the “authorities” for future, what “dissent”. This is no conspiracy and Bushco has been hard over the last 7 years to implement complete tracking of every bit of information possible. Even new bills enable “thought crimes” under the new terror acts. So called “thinking” of terror is now punishable with up to life in prison.”

    OH, YEAH?

    And since when has the Bushitler used the theft of private communications of his political opponents to smear them? Come on? Have any parallels to what happened to Don Brash right here in NZ, happened to Al Gore? Or John Kerry? Or Hillary Clinton?

    And what has happened to the Don Brash complaint to the NZ Plods? “Move along, nothing to see here………….”

    What do you think the Clarkists COULDN’T do with a great pool of Text messages to pick over? Where would they start? Suspected drug dealers? Yeah right. Think John Key, Murray McCully, David Farrar, John Boscawen…………

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  31. Dan (44 comments) says:

    So why not also the following:
    - reading/storing our emails.
    - recording the websites we visit.
    - opening/reading/copying/archiving our postal mail.
    - recording our voice calls – land and mobile.
    - bugging our houses.

    1984, anybody?

    Re: police powers – they can’t even keep tabs on a couple of Glocks.

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  32. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    So who watches the watches, I wonder how far these sort of laws would go if the self serving vile politicians had to put on public display all their texts. Whats the bet this sort of law would be thrown out the window in a heartbeat if the politicians had to show and tell. I for one would love to view Dear Leader’s texts, I’m sure they are far from being purer then driven snow. Fuck the lot of them, they hide behind words like national security, terrorism, these are just convenant excuses for state spying.

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  33. peteremcc (341 comments) says:

    Why not have the Post Office open, scan and store a copy of every letter that is ever sent too?

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  34. Steve (4,318 comments) says:

    Back in the USSR.
    Helengrad wants to know everything about all of us, not just the criminals and text bullies

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  35. SPC (4,633 comments) says:

    Don’t ya just love it, when even the right gets a “disposition” over something. It’s like the car speeding fines which the middle class so objects to.

    Computers of course have a record of activity that can be noted in various ways. Use can even be minitored from another location (emails are surveillanced by Echelon, but not easily accessible for local crime purposes).

    Note this fact.

    Only legally acquired evidence is of use in a court case. But fishing to gather information occurs routinely and sometimes becomes the basis for secret informer testimony enabling a later subsequent warrant. So those wondering about hacking of record bases have a point.

    Comparing the intrusion into the cyber world with that of former communications is of course valid, but one wonders how much ones mail is intercepted before receipt anyhow. I once was informed (by a Wellington police officer) that all mail sent to an embassy would be intercepted before they received it.

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  36. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    SPC: the point is that if the phone companies have a valid reason for hanging on to them, that is fine. And as Stephen said, people can go to phone companies that don’t keep their data longer than they have to, and like internet companies phone companies probably should have a privacy policy. That is very different to mandating that the phone companies keep these records – that is a new erosion of our rights.

    Many phone calls are processed digitally these days, so arguably they reside (if only for a short period of time) in a computer’s storage. The government could just as easily and logically legislate to require these to be kept and discoverable indefinitely. Would that make any more sense?

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  37. ropata (117 comments) says:

    story about a net nerd harassed by the fbi : Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
    story about canadian ezra levant hauled before human rights authority after publishing mohammed cartoons: i don’t answer to the State
    it will happen here too when bureaucracy gets too powerful..

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  38. SPC (4,633 comments) says:

    The reason police want it, is because when they have a suspect (often someone they have already arrested), they are just looking for evidence for the court case (others storing all communications means what they are looking for would also be there). This will be 99% of cases involved.

    The problem with this sort of thing, is precedent of past police (and other) abuse of the privileged access, thus concern about the other 1% – which means when people abuse due process they harm the trust they need to do their job.

    “What have we go to hide” (right wing cynicism about civil liberties liberals) vs “why should we be obliged to do things for the establishment/government/police or why should they have to do things for the establishment/government/police convenience”.

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  39. SPC (4,633 comments) says:

    “I’m surprised at your equivocation DPF.”

    Actually it is a rather clear opposition to it, one wonders though where the National party leader and spokesperson stand.

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  40. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Yes indeed SPC

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  41. John Dalley (394 comments) says:

    Policy statement from National – Ahhh policy yes we have one, just not sure what it is yet.

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  42. stayathomemum (140 comments) says:

    Under this government there is an insidious creep into our personal lives – once upon a time I would not have been too concerned about a move like this, thinking it for the common good that crimes are easily solved – however I no longer feel this way.
    Once a good law-abiding citizen, I now have to worry about whether it is legal for me to walk down Queen Street with a placard, about that little smack I gave my child in the supermarket carpark, about whether those 100 flyers I distributed in my street were against the law, and now about whether my teenage daughter’s love-texts will come back to haunt her when she’s famous!
    Big Brother is watching you……

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  43. martin english (39 comments) says:

    Given the record of governments in general (not just the NZ LP), wouldn’t it be interesting if these records were available under FOI legislation (i. public interest, not just my “coming home to root you silly, send kids to yr Mum” texts)

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