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Diane Publishing Books
Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping
Gina Marie Stevens (au); Charles Doyle (au)
This report provides an overview of federal law governing wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping. It also appends citations to state law in the area and contains a bibliography of legal commentary as well as the text of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It is a federal crime to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of otherswithout court approval, unless one of the parties has given their prior consent. It is likewise a federal crime to use or disclose any information acquired by illegal wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping. Congress has created separate but comparable protective schemes for electronic communications (e.g., e-mail) and against the surreptitious use oftelephone call monitoring practices such as pen registers and trap and trace devices. Each of these protective schemes comes with a procedural mechanism to afford limited law enforcement access to private communications and communications records under conditionsconsistent with the dictates of the Fourth Amendment. The government has been given narrowly confined authority to engage in electronic surveillance, conduct physical searches, install and use pen registers and trap and trace devices for law enforcement purposes under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Two FISA provisions, born in the USA PATRIOT Act and dealingwith roving wiretaps (section 206) and business records (section 215), are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2009. This report includes a brief summary of the expired Protect America Act, P.L. 110-55 and of theForeign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008, P.L. 110-261 (H.R. 6304).
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