Telcos say they don’t keep SMS
MANILA, Philippines–Lawmakers hoping to unearth more details from the text exchange between President Aquino and then suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima during the Mamasapano operation will likely be disappointed after telecommunication firms revealed they did not store their subscribers’ short message service (SMS) contents.
A ranking Smart Communications Inc. officer told the Inquirer the mobile phone giant kept records of the time and number of text messages sent and received by subscribers, but not their contents.
Rival Globe Telecom Inc. said it did the same.
“Please note that we can only provide call or text logs,” Globe’s communications head Yoly Crisanto said. “We cannot provide the actual SMS messages as these are not in our database.”
Nonetheless, Crisanto said the Ayala-controlled telco will cooperate with the Senate investigation into the ill-fated Mamasapano operation and which has subpoenaed mobile phone records from both telcos.
“We will provide available data once called upon to do so,” Crisanto said.
The lawmakers are trying to ascertain the extent of the knowledge and participation of both Mr. Aquino and Purisima in the highly secret operation to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”
Industry officials pointed out that, while it was theoretically possible to intercept and read subscribers’ SMS exchanges, they did not, as a matter of policy, read or store them given the high volume of message traffic in the Philippines. Monitoring and storing them all would entail significant costs.
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