I understand that companies that involve digital communications can, at least in the US, be forced to hand over communication data in specific contexts.

But storing so much data must be highly expensive for larger communication networks, and I doubt the government pays for this storage. Are companies forced to store communication data?

If I made an app that handled messaging, would I be required to store the data? Or for example, could Verizon give customers the option to not have their text messages and phone records stored?

  • 1
    Much of the data they record is required for billing, at least for certain plans.
    – phoog
    Feb 7, 2016 at 7:04
  • In the UK a bill is being forced through, just like the last snooper's charter, to require all telecom companies to record every shred of data at their expense, and keep it for twelve months and even longer if the spies decide they want to. We don't have to vote in a democracy, it turns out. <sarcasm> I feel much safer. </sarcasm>
    – Ken Sharp
    Feb 7, 2016 at 12:39
  • In France (and I believe this actually stems from a EU regulation), telecommunications providers have a legal requirement to keep some of the data (metadata, really) for a period of time, one year IIRC. They also have a requirement (for different reasons) to remove that data beyond a period of time (which is probably one year as well). When served with a request for such metadata, they can actually get a payment for the time and effort required (don't know how much that is nowadays). Note that this applies to metadata, so would include time/sender/recipient of text, not the message itself.
    – jcaron
    Feb 7, 2016 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


I also can not comment on the situation in the usa but here in the uk with Internet service providers (ISPs) there is a clause on the data capture of it being within the ISP's reasonable capabilities. I know someone who by a series of unusual events has become his own ISP, as his ISP only has one client it is unreasonable for him to have large amounts of, or even any, data capture.

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