Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. 2511

Section 2511 of the Wiretap Act prohibits interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications. Complex elements of a 2511 violation include the intentional interception of any wire, oral, or electronic communication or the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when the device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication, or when the device transmits communications by radio or interferes with the transmission of wire communication, and intentionally discloses contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication. It also covers the knowledge that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication.

It is further unlawful to use a pen register or a trap and trace device (without authority). It is unlawful to intercept wire or electronic communication that is scrambled, encrypted, or transmitted using modulation techniques, the essential parameters of which have been withheld from the public with the intention of preserving the privacy of communication, such as:
  • Radio portion of a cellular telephone communication, a cordless telephone communication that is transmitted between the cordless telephone handset and the base unit, a public land mobile radio service communication, or a paging service communication
  • Interception of a satellite transmission (encrypted or scrambled)
Punishment specified under this act includes a minimum of $500 for each violation and jail terms dependent on circumstances and damages.


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