Is it illegal to tap a phone?
YES. It is a federal, and state offense to tap a telephone line or otherwise intercept a telephone conversation.
Can I record a conversation between myself and someone else?
Yes. As long as YOU are a party to that conversation within the state of Tennessee. No exceptions. Always seek legal consultation if you are not sure.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-601: A person who is a party to a wire, oral or electronic communication, or who has obtained the consent of at least one party, can lawfully record a communication and divulge the contents of the recorded communication unless he has a criminal or tortious( harmful) purpose for doing so. Violations are punishable as felonies with jail sentences of between two and 12 years and fines not exceeding $5,000. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-602, 40-35-111.
Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. See definition of “oral communication,” Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-6-303.
Anyone whose communications have been unlawfully intercepted can sue to recover the greater of actual damages, $100 per day of violation or $10,000, along with punitive damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-603.
Recording or disseminating a communication carried out through a cellular or cordless telephone, or disseminating the contents with knowledge of their illegal origin, without the consent of at least one party, can be punished as a felony with a potential prison sentence of between one and six years and a fine not to exceed $3,000. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-604, 40-35-111.
Recent Court Case concerning domestic wiretaps:
Wiretaps by spouses actionable Court lets suit proceed
By BILL RANKIN - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sparring spouses can no longer wiretap each other without fear of being sued in federal court.
In an opinion issued Thursday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a 29-year-old precedent that barred invasion-of-privacy lawsuits by spouses over wiretaps, even though the practice is a crime.
“It’s about time and long overdue,” said Jeffrey B. Bogart, an Atlanta family law and criminal defense attorney. He said he has come across divorces with one spouse wiretapping another to catch an infidelity “more often than I’d like to see.”
Atlanta family law attorney John Mayoue said some studies estimate more than 75 percent of all wiretaps are done in family settings. This includes feuding spouses who try to use taped phone conversations as leverage in divorce disputes.
“I think people in this country should be on notice we do not wiretap, period,” Mayoue said.
In Georgia, wiretapping is a felony with penalties of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
But Mayoue said prosecutors, more inclined to charge more serious cases involving drugs and violence, rarely get involved in wiretaps in domestic disputes.
The 11th Circuit issued its ruling in a case involving James and Elisabeth Glazner of Birmingham. After Glazner filed for divorce in 1999, he bought a recording device at Radio Shack and surreptitiously attached it to a phone line in their home. He then left on a trip.
While he was gone, Elisabeth Glazner detected a hollow sound on the phone line, checked it out, found the recording device and called police. Before the Glazners’ divorce was finalized, Elisabeth Glazner filed a federal lawsuit against her husband under a 1968 law banning wiretaps of “any person.”
But the case was dismissed by a federal judge, who cited a 1974 court precedent that said there was “implied consent” among married couples to wiretap each other in their own home.
In Thursday’s ruling, the 11th Circuit threw out that precedent entirely, noting that many other courts across the country that have considered the issue have ruled the other way. The 11th Circuit’s decision applies to all three states within its jurisdiction: Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
Elisabeth Glazner will now go to trial against her ex-husband, said her lawyer, Bruce Gordon.
Can you use a hidden camera to catch someone abusing a child?
Yes, very carefully. Reasonable expectation of privacy exists in many areas. Where a person has such a reasonable expectation of privacy, is usually off limits to video recording. As professionals in our field we know where these areas exist, and where and when we can and cannot record. Camera placement is important, legally and technically speaking. Improper placement can deem all evidence as inadmissible
It is a misdemeanor to photograph, film or observe a person without consent where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, when the photographing, filming or viewing “would offend or embarrass an ordinary person” and is done for sexual purposes( or gratification) Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-605, 39-13-607. Dissemination of a photograph or videotape taken in violation of these provisions is a felony. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-605(2).
Can I monitor what my employees are doing on the computers in my business?
Yes. Employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy while using company owned computer equipment, as long as they know that the computers are for company business, only, and it is acknowledged so by signing an agreement prior to employment. BUT!
You can only dismiss an employee for using a computer for non company business, only if they knew they have had prior knowledge that dismissal for violating company policy was part of a agreement or pre condition of employment that was acknowledged, with a signature when they were hired.
Can my boss “bug” my cube or office, and listen to me at work?
Yes and No. If you signed a employment agreement that stated that the companies premises (except the bathroom) were subject to audio monitoring, and or it is posted in a conspicuous place that the premises are subject to audio monitoring, your employer can “listen in.” Usually most company restrooms are the only place where someone will have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Most employers know better than to use audio in certain environments due to possible legal implications.
Do you need a license to provide TSCM or bug sweeps in Tennessee?
Yes. According to the TN Dept of Commerce and Insurance, you must be a licensed Private Investigator.
How long does it take to check my home, office or facility to see if a device has been placed somewhere inside?
Many factors determine the amount of time it will take to conduct a TSCM survey. It takes time to unload and setup equipment. It takes time to conduct the survey. Usually hours or even days depending on the facilities characteristics, and content.
Is someone comes into your area of concern with a magic box or gadget and 30 minutes later tells you the area is safe, or “clear, “they probably have not provided you with proper service. A TSCM survey is a lengthy intense process from start to finish.
Can I use a GPS Tracking device on my spouse, or my boyfriend/girlfriends car?
TN Law concerning tracking devices:
Except as provided in subsection (b), it is an offense for a person to knowingly install, conceal or otherwise place an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle without the consent of all owners of such vehicle for the purpose of monitoring or following an occupant or occupants of such vehicle.
2) As used in this section, “person” does not include the manufacturer of the motor vehicle.
(b) (1) It shall not be a violation if the installing, concealing or placing of an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle is by, or at the direction of, a law enforcement officer in furtherance of a criminal investigation and is carried out in accordance with applicable state and federal law.
2) If the installing, concealing or placing of an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle is by, or at the direction of, a parent or legal guardian who owns or leases such vehicle, and if such device is used solely for the purpose of monitoring the minor child of such parent or legal guardian when such child is an occupant of such vehicle, then the installation, concealment or placement of such device in or on such vehicle without the consent of any or all occupants in such vehicle shall not be a violation.
3) It shall also not be a violation of this section if the installing, concealing or placing of an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle is for the purpose of tracking the location of stolen goods being transported in such vehicle or for the purpose of tracking the location of such vehicle if it is stolen.
c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to a tracking system installed by the manufacturer of a motor vehicle.
The Fourth Amendment courtesy of notbored.org and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
“The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state’s interest in crime-fighting should never vitiate the citizens’ Bill of Rights.” — John Ashcroft, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee on Consumer Affairs, Foreign Commerce and Tourism, 1997.
Despite their clarity, the Fourth Amendment’s protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures” have in fact been drastically weakened since they became the law of the land in 1791. As it stands today, unless there exists a “reasonable” expectation of privacy — that is, a “reasonable” expectation that what one does or says will not be seen or heard by someone else — neither local police nor federal law enforcement authorities are required to get a warrant or other court order before they start a surveillance operation.
How does one establish whether, in a given instance, one’s expectation of privacy is “reasonable”? The criteria are as follows: 1) general legal principles; 2) the vantage point from which the surveillance is carried out; 3) the degree of privacy afforded by certain buildings and/or places; and 4) the sophistication and invasiveness of the surveillance technology employed.
1. General legal principles. The expectation of privacy is not reasonable if the behaviors or communications in question were knowingly exposed to public view. Neither the simple desire for privacy, nor the fact that one took steps to obtain it, entitles one to reasonably expect it. For example, even if one set up roadblocks, hung “no trespassing” signs and moved one’s house back into the woods, one might still be surveilled from the airwithout one’s Fourth Amendment rights being violated. And yet, as the court stated in People v. Camacho (2000) 23 Cal.4 th 824, 835, “we cannot accept the proposition that [the] defendant forfeited the expectation his property would remain private simply because he did not erect an impregnable barrier to access.”
2. Vantage point. The expectation of privacy is not reasonable if there exists a vantage point from which anyone, not just a police officer, can see or hear what was going on and if this vantage point is or should be known or “reasonably foreseen” by the person being surveilled. If such a vantage point exists in theory, the police can actually use another vantage point from which to conduct their surveillance, because what matters is the expectation of privacy, which becomes “unreasonable” if any vantage point exists (!). But the police cannot use a vantage point if they have no legal right to take or occupy it. The police cannot commit trespassing; they haven’t if they have taken up a vantage point along a normal access route, an “open field,” or a common area.
3. Certain buildings and/or pieces of land. The expectation of privacy is not reasonable at such public places as automobile thoroughfares (United States v. Knotts  460 US 276, 281), and national forests (United States v. McIver [9 th Cir. 1999] 186 F.3d 1119, 1125, but is reasonable at public phone booths (Katz v. the United States, 389 U.S. 347 ), rock concerts (Jacobsen v. Seattle, 658 P. 2d 653 [Wash. 1983]), and sports arenas (Collier v. Miller, 414 F. Supp. 1357 [S.D. Tex. 1976]).
4. Technological sophistication. It’s easy to forget that, at the time the Fourth Amendment was written and adopted, the photographic camera had not yet been invented; it wasn’t until 1826 that Daguerre patented the first photographic process. Because of the rapid development and increasing technological sophistication of televisual surveillance — first, photography, then, close-circuit televison, and, finally, digital imagery — “Judicial implementations of the Fourth Amendment need constant accommodation to the ever-intensifying technology of surveillance” (Dean v. Superior Court  35 Cal.App.3d 112, 116); “the Fourth Amendment must likewise grow in response” (United States v. Kim  415 F. Supp. 1252, 1257). This is especially true when it comes to “acquisition technology,” that is, devices that, in effect, create vantage points that weren’t previously there: audio bugs, wiretaps, and “video bugs” (covert wireless cameras), the use of which requires that the police must get warrants or other court orders
US Wiretapping Laws
US Code Title18, Part1, Chapter119,Section 2511
A custodial parent may be able to justify a secret tape recording of a minor child if the parent has a “good faith, objectively reasonable belief that the interception is necessary for the best interests of the child.” This is known as the “vicarious consent” rule. It must be used with great caution by a custodial parent, who should have specific facts supporting a reasonable belief that the child’s best interests would be served by a secret recording PRIOR to the tape recording by that parent. A mere guess, suspicion or “hunch” unsupported by specific facts is insufficient.
(1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who –
(a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication; (b) intentionally uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when –
(i) such device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication; or
(ii) such device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of such communication; or
(iii) such person knows, or has reason to know, that such device or any component thereof has been sent through the mail or transported in interstate or foreign commerce; or
(iv) such use or endeavor to use (A) takes place on the premises of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or
(B) obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the operations of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or
foreign commerce; or
(v) such person acts in the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States;
(c) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection;
(d) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection; or
(e)(i) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, intercepted by means authorized by sections 2511(2)(a)(ii), 2511(2)(b)-(c), 2511(2)(e), 2516, and 2518 of this chapter, (ii) knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of such a communication in connection with a criminal investigation, (iii) having obtained or received the information in connection with a criminal investigation, and (iv) with intent to improperly obstruct, impede, or interfere with a duly authorized criminal investigation, shall be punished as provided in subsection (4) or shall be subject to suit as provided in subsection (5).
(2)(a)(i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an operator of a switchboard, or an officer, employee, or agent of a provider of wire or electronic communication service, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire or electronic communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his service or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that service, except that a provider of wire communication service to the public shall not utilize service observing or random monitoring except for mechanical or service quality control checks.
(ii) Notwithstanding any other law, providers of wire or electronic communication service, their officers, employees, and agents, landlords, custodians, or other persons, are authorized to provide information, facilities, or technical assistance to persons authorized by law to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications or to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, if such provider, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other specified person, has been provided with –
(A) a court order directing such assistance signed by the authorizing judge, or
(B) a certification in writing by a person specified in section 2518(7) of this title or the Attorney General of the United States that no warrant or court order is required by law, that all statutory requirements have been met, and that the specified assistance is required,
setting forth the period of time during which the provision of the information, facilities, or technical assistance is authorized and specifying the information, facilities, or technical assistance required. No provider of wire or electronic communication service, officer, employee, or agent thereof, or landlord, custodian, or other specified person shall disclose the existence of any interception or surveillance or the device used to accomplish the interception or surveillance with respect to which the person has been furnished a court order or certification under this chapter, except as may otherwise be required by legal process and then only after prior notification to the Attorney General or to the principal prosecuting attorney of a State or any political subdivision of a State, as may be appropriate. Any such disclosure, shall render such person liable for the civil damages provided for in section 2520. No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of wire or electronic communication service, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other specified person for providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order or certification under this chapter.
(b) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an officer, employee, or agent of the Federal Communications Commission, in the normal course of his employment and in discharge of the monitoring responsibilities exercised by the Commission in the enforcement of chapter 5 of title 47 of the United States Code, to intercept a wire or electronic communication, or oral communication transmitted by radio, or to disclose or use the information thereby obtained. (c) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception.
(d) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title or section 705 or 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, it shall not be unlawful for an officer, employee, or agent of the United States in the normal course of his official duty to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as authorized by that Act.
(f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.
(g) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person –
(i) to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public;
(ii) to intercept any radio communication which is transmitted –
(I) by any station for the use of the general public, or that relates to ships, aircraft, vehicles, or persons in distress; (II) by any governmental, law enforcement, civil defense, private land mobile, or public safety communications system, including police and fire, readily accessible to the general public;
(III) by a station operating on an authorized frequency within the bands allocated to the amateur, citizens band, or general mobile radio services; or
(IV) by any marine or aeronautical communications system; (iii) to engage in any conduct which –
(I) is prohibited by section 633 of the Communications Act of 1934; or
(II) is excepted from the application of section 705(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 by section 705(b) of that Act;
(iv) to intercept any wire or electronic communication the transmission of which is causing harmful interference to any lawfully operating station or consumer electronic equipment, to the extent necessary to identify the source of such interference; or
(v) for other users of the same frequency to intercept any radio communication made through a system that utilizes frequencies monitored by individuals engaged in the provision or the use of such system, if such communication is not scrambled or encrypted.
(h) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter –
(i) to use a pen register or a trap and trace device (as those terms are defined for the purposes of chapter 206 (relating to pen registers and trap and trace devices) of this title); or
(ii) for a provider of electronic communication service to record the fact that a wire or electronic communication was initiated or completed in order to protect such provider, another provider furnishing service toward the completion of the wire or electronic communication, or a user of that service, from fraudulent, unlawful or abusive use of such service.
(i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept the wire or electronic communications of a computer trespasser transmitted to, through, or from the protected computer, if –
(I) the owner or operator of the protected computer authorizes the interception of the computer trespasser’s communications on the protected computer;
(II) the person acting under color of law is lawfully engaged in an investigation;
(III) the person acting under color of law has reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of the computer trespasser’s communications will be relevant to the investigation; and
(IV) such interception does not acquire communications other than those transmitted to or from the computer trespasser.
(3)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, a person or entity providing an electronic communication service to the public shall not intentionally divulge the contents of any communication (other than one to such person or entity, or an agent thereof) while in transmission on that service to any person or entity other than an addressee or intended recipient of such communication or an agent of such addressee or intended recipient.
(b) A person or entity providing electronic communication service to the public may divulge the contents of any such communication –
(i) as otherwise authorized in section 2511(2)(a) or 2517 of this title;
(ii) with the lawful consent of the originator or any addressee or intended recipient of such communication;
(iii) to a person employed or authorized, or whose facilities are used, to forward such communication to its destination; or
(iv) which were inadvertently obtained by the service provider and which appear to pertain to the commission of a crime, if such divulgence is made to a law enforcement agency.
(4)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection or in subsection (5), whoever violates subsection (1) of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(b) If the offense is a first offense under paragraph (a) of this subsection and is not for a tortious or illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain, and the wire or electronic communication with respect to which the offense under paragraph (a) is a radio communication that is not 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 such communication, then –
(i) if the communication is not the 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, and the conduct is not that described in subsection (5), the offender shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and
(ii) if the communication is the 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, the offender shall be fined under this title.
(c) Conduct otherwise an offense under this subsection that consists of or relates to the interception of a satellite transmission that is not encrypted or scrambled and that is transmitted –
(i) to a broadcasting station for purposes of retransmission to the general public; or
(ii) as an audio subcarrier intended for redistribution to facilities open to the public, but not including data transmissions or telephone calls,
is not an offense under this subsection unless the conduct is for the purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.
(5)(a)(i) If the communication is –
(A) a private satellite video communication that is not scrambled or encrypted and the conduct in violation of this chapter is the private viewing of that communication and is not for a tortious or illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain; or
(B) a radio communication that is transmitted on frequencies allocated under subpart D of part 74 of the rules of the Federal Communications Commission that is not scrambled or encrypted and the conduct in violation of this chapter is not for a tortious or illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain, then the person who engages in such conduct shall be subject to suit by the Federal Government in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(ii) In an action under this subsection –
(A) if the violation of this chapter is a first offense for the person under paragraph (a) of subsection (4) and such person has not been found liable in a civil action under section 2520 of this title, the Federal Government shall be entitled to appropriate injunctive relief; and
(B) if the violation of this chapter is a second or subsequent offense under paragraph (a) of subsection (4) or such person has been found liable in any prior civil action under section 2520, the person shall be subject to a mandatory $500 civil fine. (b) The court may use any means within its authority to enforce
an injunction issued under paragraph (ii)(A), and shall impose a civil fine of not less than $500 for each violation of such an injunction.
1060 Scope of 18 U.S.C § 2512 Prohibitions
Section 2512 of Title 18 provides penalties for conduct concerning devices which are primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. It prohibits sending such devices through the mail or in interstate or foreign commerce. Id. § 2512(1)(b). It also prohibits the publication of an advertisement (1) concerning any device if the advertisement promotes the use of the device for the purpose of surreptitious interceptions, or (2) concerning devices which are primarily useful for the surreptitious interception of communications. A “device” under § 2512 is intended to include any combination of parts designed or intended for use in converting those parts into such a device and from which such a device may be readily assembled. See S.Rep. No. 541, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. 13 (1986).
The legislative history of Section 2512 indicates that the statutory prohibition applies to such things as the martini olive transmitter, the spike mike, the infinity transmitter, and the microphone disguised as a wristwatch, picture frame, cuff link, tie clip, fountain pen, stapler, or cigarette pack. See S.Rep. No. 1097, 90th Cong., 2d Sess. 95 (1968). However, the legislative history specifically exempts parabolic and other directional microphones “ordinarily used by broadcasters at sports events” from the reach of the statute. Id.
It is worthy of note that 18 U.S.C. § 2512(1)(c)(ii) prohibits the advertisement of any device for “surreptitious interception.” Such advertising is prohibited although the device itself may not be primarily useful for surreptitious interceptions and although the interceptions promoted are surreptitious, one-party consensual interceptions permissible under 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(d). See United States v. Bast, 495 F.2d 138 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
Section 2512 violations are punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and a fine under Title 18.
Section 2512(2) excepts from the prohibitions of the section providers of wire or electronic communication services acting in the normal course of their business and law enforcement officers acting in the normal course of their activities, or persons under contract with such law enforcement agencies.