The police may obtain your opened and unopened messages that are 180 days old or older with a subpoena. But they have to let you know once they've requested this access from the provider. Law enforcement are allowed to access older, unread emails without telling you if they obtain a court order.
If the law enforcement officers go to your cell service provider or Google, they can access information on your text messages and emails if they have a court order. If the police have a subpoena, they can access emails that date back as far as 180 days, whether they are opened or unopened.
If you simply delete a text, they are still available. And there are common forensics tools used by both law enforcement and civil investigators to recover them.
4) Text messages
Text messages are treated like emails, according to the ECPA. That means, under this crucial and controversial law, officers must obtain a warrant from a judge for content stored by a service provider (like Verizon or AT&T) that is less than 180 days old, but not for content that's 180 days or older.
However, just because you erase texts on Apple and Android products doesn't mean they're gone for good, according to an expert on the Apple Support Community and Business Insider. They will be hidden, but they may still be saved in system data or elsewhere with your cellphone carrier.
It is worth being aware that analysis of your devices by the police can take some time. A typical case with no surrounding factors could take anywhere between 6-12 months for results to be obtained.
They sit on the company's server for anywhere from three days to three months, depending on the company's policy. Verizon holds texts for up to five days and Virgin Mobile keeps them for 90 days. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint do not keep the contents of text messages.
Police Must Obtain an Order to Tap Your Phone
Before they tap your phone, the police must obtain an order from a judge.
The Android operating system stores text messages in the phone's memory, so if they're deleted, there's no way to retrieve them. You can, however, install a text message backup application from the Android market that allows you to restore any deleted text messages.
In general, the Act's prohibitions bar third parties (including the government) from wiretapping telephones. However, a wiretap order (or “Title III order”) permits law enforcement officers to intercept wire communications for up to 30 days. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 2516(1), 2518(5).
The police (or other authorities) will generally need a warrant to search your device without your consent (except in certain exceptional circumstances). If police unlawfully search your mobile phone, any evidence recovered can potentially be suppressed, meaning it cannot be used as part of any prosecution against you.
Cloud Data. There are many backups of data on your phone. Anything saved outside of your device can be accessed by law enforcement if they follow the correct and established legal routes to do so.
Carriers have an extensive database to keep messages even after it has been deleted. Hence, you can reach out to your carrier to retrieve deleted text messages from another phone for free.
Our ruling: False. We rate the claim that dialing *#21# on an iPhone or Android device reveals if a phone has been tapped FALSE because it is not supported by our research.
You can immediately check if your phone has been compromised, or if your calls, messages etc have been forwarded without your knowledge. All you need to do is dial a few USSD codes - ##002#, *#21#, and *#62# from your phone's dialer.
Obtaining a Wiretap Order
Can police listen to phone conversations on your landline or cell? Yes, they can potentially listen in on both under certain conditions. Wiretaps can provide supportive evidence against people suspected of criminal activity.
If you are currently using a wireless backup service, check when the last backup was made. If the most recent backup was made before you accidentally deleted the texts, you can restore that backup to your phone and the text messages will be restored to your phone as well.
Most cell phone service providers can easily help you get the text message logs from your account; however, some providers don't save the actual messages for privacy reasons. The few who keep the text message history can only provide it if they receive a request via legal channels.
In fact, all text messages are saved on Android phones by default. Therefore, if you only have a SIM card, you cannot see the text messages saved on the phone. If you want to save them on the SIM card or SD card, you have to manually move them to the SIM card one by one yourself.
WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS? Mobile phone extraction allows the police to access and download all of the data stored on your mobile phone. For most people, this will include the most private information they store anywhere, including their contacts, messages, web browsing history and banking information.
Short answer: If your phone is protected by a passcode or biometric unlocking features, there's a chance police can't gain access to your personal data. But that's not guaranteed.
These records are only kept for about 1.5 years. So, if you intend to subpoena particular text messages in your divorce case, you should be mindful of these time limitations.