Courts do not treat text messages as intangible personal property. Authors and recipients of text messages have limited recourse against cell phone manufacturers or service providers when they “accidentally” delete their users’ text messages. This Note proceeds as follows: Part II offers a brief overview of what text messages are and what they are not. Part III covers the history of intangible personal property law and reviews the evolution of “cybertrespass” claims. Part IV explores the judiciary and the Fourth Amendment’s failure to protect text messages. Finally, Part V evaluates whether text messages constitute property and the practical implications of this finding.
Text Messages Are Property: Why You Don’t Own Your Text Messages, but It’d Be a Lot Cooler if You Did
Spence M. Howden
June 19, 2019