Are your private conversations really private? Are the corporate secrets that you’ve been discussing in a presumably-secure location, such as your conference room, vulnerable to eavesdropping? You probably won’t be be surprised to know that covert listening devices (aka bugs, wires) are easily hidden inside ordinary locations of private businesses and other private premises. That type of eavesdropping is obviously illegal, but where is the line drawn? Does having a recorder in your pocket during a staff meeting constitute a crime? What if you are one of the individuals participating in the conversation? Does everyone involved in a conversation need to know that the conversation is being recorded? Most importantly, are systems available to prevent or combat eavesdropping?

The term eavesdropping is derived from English common law that describes the act of listening in on conversations under walls or windows, or the eaves of a house, with the intent to form “slanderous and mischievous tales.” Obviously, the term has evolved through time (to include electronic eavesdropping) to overhear, record, amplify, or transmit any part of a private conversation of others without the consent of at least one of the parties engaged in the conversation ( Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(d)).

Additionally, wiretapping is a type of eavesdropping that involves the covert physical interception between the sender and receiver of a message, through monitoring or recording telephone conversations of others. This is commonly referred to as the placing of a bug inside a private premise, or using a “wire” placed on an informant to surreptitiously record conversations. It should be noted that an overheard message by a third party, where there is no change in the physical integrity of the communication system, does not necessarily constitute an illegal interception. Federal, State, and local laws are often complex and eavesdropping/wiretapping laws are no exception. Legal questions should always be addressed to a well-versed lawyer on the subject.

As a generality, however, a place where a reasonable expectation of privacy is enjoyed is protected from eavesdropping. Without explicit consent to intercepting or recording such conversations constitutes a crime. (This probably would not include places where the public has access.)  But that’s where local, state and federal eavesdropping laws gets complex and differ from state to state; Consent is everything. For information regarding Pennsylvania’s wiretapping laws, click here.

Technical Security Countermeasures are systems designed to combat eavesdropping. Forletta Investigative/Security Consultant employs a team of experts with over 100 years of combined investigative experience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA and licensed in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Forletta can help you combat eavesdropping through state-of-the-art technical security countermeasures.

Call Forletta today for a full evaluation of your technical security countermeasure needs!

And follow our “Eavesdropping Blog Part Two” for additional information on state and federal wiretapping laws!