Is What You Send On Your Phone Actually Private?

Sending text messages and images via phone is perhaps the fastest way to communicate, share special moments, and convey important business information to everyone in your life from family members to fellow co-workers. If you're confirming the date of your loved one's birthday party or sending the results of the annual board meeting to an employee who couldn't make it, you're likely not too worried about the privacy of your text messages. When it comes to personal and private pictures, however, most people are far more concerned about the privacy of what they're sending out—especially if it the content involves their children. Additionally, some adults want to see the details of what was said or sent from their child or spouse's phone for various reasons—is that legal or even possible?

Temporary Records

It's no secret (and it makes perfect sense) that your cell phone provider keeps records of who you've called, the duration of that call, and even copies text messages and images between parties. Since the calls and messages are routed through that company, it's understandable to think that they would have a copy of what was sent through them. For most companies, the records are only kept for a short period of time, so if you need to take a look at one of the records from the recent past, you may want to hurry.

In 2006 (within the Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act), Congress put into clear law that your phone company cannot release your phone records to anyone for any reason in a normal situation. In other words, you won't be able to investigate a suspected affair or your teen's phone activity by calling your cell phone provider unless you have access to the main password on the account. If the main account holder doesn't want to give you the information to access your phone records, you're probably not going to ever see them.

Exceptional Situations

If you believe that criminal activity may be occurring with your phone, you may be able to get a court order or police involvement to easily obtain your phone records. For example, if you're pursuing a case against a harassing caller and need to show the judge the length and recurrence of calls made to your number over time, your attorney can help you to get the records that will serve as your proof. If you have any questions about your situation and how it specifically might qualify (or not) for a copy of phone records, talk to your lawyer, one like Warfield Darrah & Erdmann, who can give you a knowledgeable answer.