Wiretapping often plays a significant role in carrying out criminal investigations. This process involves the use of secret means to monitor, record, and intercept a person’s telephone conversation. In today’s world, people may not think about wiretapping, believing their lines are secure. In most scenarios, they are secure, but mainly because no one cares to intercept a person’s calls.
In the U.S., the federal intelligence agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can get permission for wiretaps from a court that has secret proceedings like the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) as described in the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Act. However, there various times when wiretaps have trended all over the news and in social media. For instance, when President Donald Trump claimed that his calls were intercepted by the FBI.
It is, therefore, important to have an idea of how wiretaps work. It may consist of a lot of technical details, but it has a simple concept behind it that anyone can grasp simply. However, this only applies to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the federal law. A process must be followed so as not to discourage the FBI from tapping just any phone call.
There are some crimes that the FBI can use as an excuse to use a wiretap, including terrorism, drug dealing, severe acts of violence, aircraft parts fraud, counterfeiting, and passport misuse. However, to get a wiretap, the Department of Justice needs to file a request with a federal judge. The judge then has to accept the request before the tap takes place. In the wiretap application, it is common for the prosecutor to describe the person who is going to be eavesdropped on and the information concerning the tap. The judge’s order for authorization can last for more than 30 days. If passed, the prosecutor needs to go back to the judge and ask for permission again. When the prosecutor asks the judge, he or she must give an explanation of the previous tap and the findings.
Additionally, the judge can order the attorney to provide reports about the wiretaps and what they have discovered in investigations. The prosecutor often needs the Department of Justice’s internal approval to carry out a wiretap. For this form of eavesdropping to take place, it needs a lot of work. The prosecutor must spend a lot of hours drafting an order and even explaining the importance of carrying out a wiretap in an investigation. It is evident that the FBI often uses wiretaps, but not all the time. This means that there is a likely event that the FBI can be listening in on some phone calls, but this depends on whether the call is determined as posing a threat.
Recently, Congress presented the surveillance change. In this, three sections found in the Patriot Act were rejected and contemporary format by the American party lines was terminated. As a result, this influenced some surveillance of the United States residents that was brought by the Bush administration, supported by former President Barack Obama and secretly manipulated by the National Security Agency (NSA). Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that can help in a government investigation. The Patriot Act is used by the FBI to access large groups of metadata that had ended. But, the Freedom Act brought it back.