Miriam Cherry describes an interaction with an AT&T customer service rep. Of note, she blogs:
…. After the fourth text I didn’t look at while driving, she told me something that I have yet to verify, but which would be an interesting development, if confirmed. The customer service representative said that she had heard that AT&T was cooperating with several insurance companies. In order to reduce the number of accidents related to texting while driving, insurance companies were starting to investigate the cellphone records and texting records surrounding an accident. Your insurance company wants to know whether anyone was texting right before the accident happened. She said that AT&T was working with the insurance companies to deny these claims, and that AT&T was “turning over the records of texting.”
Read more on Concurring Opinions.
Clearly this is an allegation that needs to be looked into and I hope that Miriam follows up. A commenter on the blog pointed out that AT&T might be able to disclose meta-data without user consent:
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act AT&T can’t disclose the *contents* of the message in a non-criminal case without the consent of the consumer, even pursuant to a valid subpoena. More details here: http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2009/01/09/a-reminder-you-cant-subpoena-non-party-isps-for-emails-in-civil-suits/
But they can disclose the records of *when* messages were sent or calls made without your consent, at least under the ECPA, 18 USC s 2702(c)(6).
Yet another reason to strengthen privacy protections in ECPA.