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How long do carriers store your data?

Posted: , by Ian M.

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How long do carriers store your data?
How long do carriers store your data?
Check out this very interesting infographic that answers the question of how long do the carriers store all of the data that isn’t stored directly on your phone, such as text message content and call detail records.

The one thing that people seem to do most of these days is text. This isn’t just occasional texting, but texting by the thousands. Old messages almost always get deleted, whether it is to hide evidence of a night that is best not remembered or because they simple slow the phone you’re using down. Now what if we told you that even after you delete those messages from your device, the content of those messages still lives on with your wireless carrier? Fortunately, only one of the nation’s four largest carriers store message content.

That would be Verizon Wireless. It isn’t for a long period of time, but message content is kept by Verizon for a period of 3-5 days. The other 3 carriers, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint don’t keep message content at all. However, all four carriers do keep text message detail. This doesn’t contain what was written in the text but it does show who it was sent to and when. AT&T is the worst when it comes to keeping text message detail. They keep that data for anywhere from 5-7 years. Verizon may have been the worst when it comes to keeping content from messages, but they are the best when it comes to keeping the message details, storing it for only a 1 year rolling period.

The infographic touches on so much more, such as cell tower history, bill copies, call detail records etc. This is just a little insight as to what the wireless carriers do with all of the data that you don’t necessarily store on your phone. Some of the carriers are worse than the others, but they all pretty bad to be honest. Check out the graphics and tell us what you think.

source: Wired.com via TechCrunch 



14 Comments
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posted on 29 Sep 2011, 10:14

1. G-Reg (unregistered)


Nothing surprising. But a little curious, since these tend to help the government the most, does big V get any kick backs for providing such great detail for them. But i guess the better question is if that was to be the case, why would we ever know?

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 10:31

2. well (unregistered)


This is a great reason to get a prepaid phone.

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 10:47 1

3. G-Reg (unregistered)


Privacy is an illusion my good sir. No matter what the situation.
Prepaid wont do you any good.

GPS locaton and voice I.D. will get you on any phone, any network, any service.... but only if thats what "they" want to do.

Dont have anything worth tapping in to is what big bro wants.

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 11:13

4. Forsaken77 (Posts: 545; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)


This is CRAZY!!! Verizon actually keeping you exact text messages on file for any period of time is a complete privacy violation. If the police or government want to monitor you, first they need to get a court-order. THEN they are allowed to turn the recorders on. Verizon is recording all the info from every text message for 3 months! The news should get involved because this is so a breach of privacy. This is worse than the iphone tracking your gps. I'm surprised they're not recording actual phone conversations and keeping them stored for a year as well. They probably are and only the government has access. Unbelieveable!!!

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 11:28

5. Boat (unregistered)


By signing into a contract with them you're forfeiting your right to privacy. They never told you they weren't going to keep records. At the same time who cares if they have them for 3 days?

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 13:14

9. Phullofphil (Posts: 800; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


ye but really its hard to make sence out of random text messages so in reallity even though it sucks and does not seam right for 99% of us the government does not have the resources to keep track of all of them. To the one percent just dont say anything stupid in them if possable

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 12:11 1

7. G-Reg (unregistered)


You never herd of the patriot act did you....

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 11:44

6. phoneguru173 (Posts: 54; Member since: 09 Apr 2008)


What are you trying to hide?

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 13:10 1

8. ledbetterp3 (Posts: 466; Member since: 31 Aug 2011)


ahh, im so relieved to find out At&t doesnt keep text message content for any amount of time lol!

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 13:27

10. nick84 (unregistered)


Verizon will hold ur txt message completely more then one year...i have proof...i asked the verizon rep that i wanted records of my wifes number and she sent me an email containing over 500 pages of txt messages with the number and what was being sent and being sent back forr the past two yrs...she got caught cheating so if u have verizon...be careful cuz they kept them longer them and as long as ur name is on the account...u can request all the info u want!!!!!!!!

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 13:36

11. snowgator (Posts: 3187; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Hey, all you have to do is read or participate in any court case, I got to serve on Jury Duty here recently, or just get online and start researching it and you would know Cell phones are traceable, their histories are not secret, and they can get their hands on it just like they can finacial records, hard line phone records, search history on your computer, credit card history, banking history, magazine subscriptions, ect, ect, ect.

This has been the way it has been for as long as there have been records of any kind. Learn your rights in your State, be smart with your data, and do not do illegal stupid crap.

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 14:08

12. Correct Info (unregistered)


Verizon ONLY stores your "content" of your text messages for 5 days to ensure delivery of the messages if you are in a weak signal area. Obviously the writer of this didn't bother to do much research on these areas.

Another reason a lot of this information is stored is for technical support purposes. The carriers must have this information to be able to properly troubleshoot issues.

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 14:57

13. SPcamert (Posts: 56; Member since: 06 Feb 2010)


Last I heard only law enforcement agencies have access to text message content with verizon and it has to be requested within the 3-5 day time frame with a search warrant or a subpoena...

posted on 29 Sep 2011, 17:35

14. Stuntman (Posts: 707; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


I thought call information regarding land line calls have been keep as long as I can remember. Now why the outrage when this same information is kept regarding cell phone calls and messaging? Phone companies need call detail information to manage their network and trouble shoot problems.

I do think that keeping the message itself is a concern. If law enforcement needs to tap a line or message stream between certain parties, I can understand that. To record the message content itself and keep it around for a period of time without an order from the courts/law enforcement is beyond what I feel is reasonable.

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