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Taps, Traps, and Pens - Electronic Surveillance Overview

The federal wiretap law was enacted in 1968, and has undergone major revisions since then as Congress has tried to keep pace with changing technology. Congress has tried to balance the often competing interests of law enforcement, privacy rights, and technological innovation. Technology continues to change, however, sometimes in ways that interfere with law enforcement surveillance, but more often in ways that enhance government capabilities. Most American citizens, for example, are relying more and more on electronic communications for a range of purposes from communicating with their workplace to researching term papers to scouting out the best of the new movies for a weekend date. In the process they are exposing more details of their lives to potential law enforcement surveillance and are leaving increasingly revealing and easily captured "electronic footprints" wherever they go.

CDT believes that it is time once again to strengthen the privacy laws, and to tighten the standards for government access. In June 1997, we issued a major report that outlined the ways in which changes in technology have left privacy laws inadequate and recommended a number of privacy improvements. You can read the report and our recommendations by clicking on the links below:

OTHER WIRETAP BACKGROUND


Copyright © 2001 by Center for Democracy and Technology.


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