Imagine you\'re talking on your telephone. It\'s something that everyone takes for granted. Now imagine that the police are listening to every phone conversation that you make. Does that scare you? I know that it scares me. Wiretaps are an issue that effects every person in this country. That\'s because no matter how much we don\'t like to admit it, we need depend on telephone services more and more as time passes. The issue of telephone privacy becomes bigger and bigger every day as our telephone technology becomes more advanced. Wire taps are devices that are being used more often by law enforcement agencies to capture criminals, but there does come time when the actions of law enforcement agencies aren\'t only protecting the public, they are overstepping their boundaries and intruding into people\'s private lives.
This article is going to help you understand what wiretaps are and how they can effect you. It discusses the laws involved with wiretapping and how these laws can effect the privacy of the people who are under surveillance. It also discusses the problems that legislation for wiretaps poses to the phone companies. The costs and effectiveness of wiretaps are also issues to be discussed in this article. I feel that law enforcement agencies have indeed overstepped their boundaries and delved into the private lives of America\'s citizens, and that new legislation could even aid to the problem and make it even bigger than it already is.


Law Issues

In the technological world that we live in today, there is no question that wiretaps are a necessary tool for law enforcement officers in capturing criminals of the twenty-first century. Today, law enforcement officials are trying to keep up with new advances in the phone service industry. In fact, the director of the FBI, Louis Freeh has testified in hearings for passing new bills, "that court authorized electronic surveillance is a critical law enforcement and public safety tool" (Edwards and Boucher).
As everyone knows, there have been many changes in phone services in the past few years, and there will be many to come in the future. These are phone services that criminals utilize to help them organize criminal tasks. According to Don Edwards, former representative of California and Rick Boucher, Virginia Representative, there are a wide variety of services that law enforcement officials want to monitor to use against criminals. These include things such as cellular phones, personal communication networks, the newer generation of cordless phones, wireless modems, wireless local area networks, and electronic mail and messaging. The government has made a statement concerning their goals for such electronic monitoring. Government officials said that they want the ability to intercept communications involving advanced technologies such as digital or wireless transmission modes, or features and services such as call forwarding, speed dialing, and conference calling, while protecting the privacy of communications and without impeding the introduction of new technologies, features, and services (Edwards and Boucher).
A committee made up the General Accounting office, the FBI, and the telecommunications industry has all reached a conclusion about a need for wiretaps in law enforcement. What\'s more, Chris Stamper, writer for ABCNews.com says that supporters of such laws maintain that such a change is necessary to keep up with exploding technology. These wiretap supporters said that there is sufficient evidence justifying legislative action that new and emerging telecommunications technologies pose problems for law enforcement (Edwards and Boucher). Chris Stamper says that supporters of such bills say this will help the cops keep up with cell-phone wielding crooks. However, critics contend that it opens up the door forever more invasions of privacy.
Privacy Issues
There are at least two sides to every controversy, and the issue of wiretaps definitely brings more than two sides to mind. However, the two main arguments that have to do with wiretaps have to do with protection and privacy. The privacy issue has been escalating more and more in the past few years. "The government has been asking for more wiretapping authority than it ever has before," explained Shari Steele, director of legal services for the EEF ("electronic privacy"). Steele states, "Just as more of our communications are becoming digital, law enforcement is getting even greater access. Whatever privacy balance we may have achieved in the past is