Electronic surveillance involves the use of an electronic device to monitor an individual’s activities. Unwarranted surveillance can be said to violate the person’s fourth amendment rights. It may include the use of a ‘bug’ which is a small microphone typically attached to the victim’s phone or telephone line. This is considered wire-tapping. It may also take the form of video surveillance or monitoring online activities. Any legal entity that seeks surveillance must apply and receive a warrant before they can begin. There is no legislation referred to specifically as electronic surveillance act, however, there are laws pertaining to surveillance in many forms including electronic.
There is an Electronic Communication Privacy Act. This act originally prohibited government access to electronic data and restricted telephone wire-tapping; however, it has been amended by a number of recently enacted legislations such as the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act among others.
The Us Patriot Act, which became a law in 2001, did not only amend this law but also others.
Under electronic surveillance laws, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may under the law seize anything considered material evidence, which under the law may include ‘books, records, papers, documents,’ as well as other items. Evidenced by the Edward Snowden scandal, the ‘tangible things’ may include phone records stored in a phone company’s database. The law indicated that under this section, the Attorney General must give warrant approval. Citizens of the United States are also protected to an extent under the law. The reason for requesting a surveillance of a US citizen must not be only based on an activity covered by the First Amendment.
Anyone performing an Internet search for electronic surveillance act will find information on the laws relating to monitoring through electronic means a US resident and those of foreign countries. The Foreign Intelligences Surveillance Act also called FISA, for example, pertains to monitoring what has been referred to as ‘foreign powers’.
Privacy has always been an issue on the minds of many Americans; however, with the release of sensitive information by Edward Snowden, which indicates that the government has been surveying the public, there is an increased interest in the laws that govern this practice.
Electronic communication includes a number of data communication and storing methods such wire, radio wave and electromagnetic methods of data transfer (communication). In terms of privacy laws, however, the person is only protected in instances when it can be reasonably expected that a communication is private. Therefore, an invasion that occurs in a public arena may fall outside of the law. Electronic tapping involves tapping communication that involves the transfer of data through electronic transmissions.
It may even include communications by financial institutions, which include the transfer and electronic storage of financial information. There have been many court cases about the parameters of the law. For example, there have been court cases to determine if email messages that have been intercepted are protected. One court ruled that they were not, however, that decision was later overturned. As recently as 2010, there was a case against two high schools in Philadelphia. The case involved two students who were spied on in their home through the webcams, while using school-distributed computers, were. The case was settled with a payment of $610,000 from the school.
What is considered legal surveillance should be distinguished from the illegal surveillance that is committed by stalkers, which leads to harassment perpetrated at a level that involves the intrusion of the victim’s privacy. It may take the form of the recording of sensitive information to be shared with the public all in an effort to cause harm to the victim’s reputation. Many stalkers use digital cameras or other video capturing equipment to listen and record their victims.
Statistics from the Supplementary Victimization Survey show that 1 in 13 stalking incidents involved the use of some electronic device for monitoring. The information may then be shared on the Internet often to the embarrassment of the victim. Through invasion of privacy through domestic surveillance and cyberstalking many pictures and videos of individuals in what can only be described as compromising situations, have ruined the reputation of quite a few celebrities and other ‘ordinary’ members of the public. Jobs may very well have been lost. It is for this reason why precautions must be taken when using the Internet. With the Internet being introduced to many homes, even greater care must be taken when children are using it, as they too can be affected by hackers and Internet stalkers.
Cyberstalking one of the many crimes committed over the Internet, involves the repeated harassment of individuals. The intent is generally intimidation and embarrassment on the part of the victim. It is characterized by frequent messages, and posting of often inappropriate, false and potentially damaging information about the individual. The information is easily and quickly transferred to many individuals on the Internet and may stay online forever.
As a result of this, it becomes necessary to veil this information in a way that it cannot easily be accessed. This can be done through various means. In fact, even public records stored online may also be deleted. It is essential for many individuals that private information remains private. The information that can be removed includes:
Arrest information that may prove embarrassing and affect many areas of an individual’s life
News stories about the individual that may be potentially to your career
Embarrassing information that you shared on a social networking site and damaging information shared by others.