A measure approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to provoke a reaction among teens who text.
The proposal would require cell companies to offer a service to adults to let them read the text messages sent and received on the phones of their minor children. Sen. Rich Crandall said the companies keep the messages for several days. But the only way they surrender them is with a court order. Crandall said that's no answer. "A parent, if they have a daughter who's being threatened by someone, or the daughter's being harassed or bullied, by the time I get a court order they could have purged most of those text messages."
He said the companies could make money on the service if they want. But Verizon lobbyist John Kelly said it's not that simple.
"Obviously," said Kelly, "it's a very complicated set of laws, intervening laws, that occur at the federal level that provide jurisdiction over some of the electronic privacy rules. And so you have a situation where there's always this risk where complying with a state law may put a company at violation with federal law."
Rep. Judy Burges had a more practical concern. The 68-year-old lawmaker said she's not sure she would even understand the texts of her grandchildren even if she could see them, what with all those abbreviations and emoticons.
The 4-3 vote sends the measure to the full Senate.