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Wiretapping and Eavesdropping

The Impact Of Electronic Surveillance On Personal Privacy, Early Restrictions On Electronic Surveillance, The Contemporary Legal Status Of Wiretapping And Eavesdropping

Wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping are two types of electronic surveillance that play vital roles in criminal investigations. Wiretapping involves the use of covert means to intercept, monitor, and record telephone conversations of individuals. Electronic eavesdropping may involve the placement of a "bug" inside private premises to secretly record conversations, or the use of a "wired" government informant to record conversations that occur within the informant's earshot. Both wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping enable the government to monitor and record conversations and activities without revealing the presence of government listening devices.

Law enforcement officials have utilized these surreptitious techniques for various investigative purposes, particularly in the contexts of organized crime and counterespionage. Electronic surveillance can reveal, for example, the scope of a criminal conspiracy or organization, the nature of its activities, and the identities of its participants. Electronic surveillance also allows investigators to covertly obtain evidence of a particular conversation, series of conversations, or meetings, for use in prosecuting an identified suspect in a known crime.


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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law