Cellphone companies say they don't save text messages
City Attorney Fred Stavins said that, even if they are public records, deleted text messages are impossible to recover, and the city's legal department provided The News-Gazette with its research to prove it.
In December 2012, city officials called around to various cellphone providers to determine how long those records are retained in the cell company's files:
Verizon: Customers can retrieve text-message contents via online login, but only for three to five days, and never more than 10 days. For a customer to retrieve any other message data would require a subpoena.
AT&T: No records are kept of customers' text messages — that data can only be accessed on a customer's phone.
Sprint/Nextel: No records are kept of the content of customers' text messages. A customer may authorize the company to release text-message data, but that information would only include the time and phone numbers involved in the message and not the content of the message itself.
Virgin Mobile: No records are kept of text-message content. With a court order, the service provider may obtain future data, and even in that case, the text-message content is still not guaranteed.
T-Mobile: No records are kept of text-message content. The phone number of the recipient and the date of text messages are available for customers online, but nothing else.