PARENTAL RECORDING AND MONITORING
As Discussed By Professional Private Investigators On The Private-Eye
Mailing List: Compiled And Archieved By Ralph Thomas

From: swb@cts.com
I was asked recently by a concerned parent to set up a recorder on their
home phone to capture the conversations of her daughter. She was certain her
daughter was involved in drug selling and wanted confrontation evidence
before her daughter was caught by someone less concerned for her safety or
freedom. The daughter had already served some time for muleing and claimed
she now knew the ropes. The mother wanted me to review the tapes. I
reluctantly set up the hardware for her, but I told her it was not legal to
record a phone conversation without the consent of both parties. I refused
to listen to the tapes but she made some pretty good arguments.
1. It's not illegal to purchase legally sold hardware and install it in a
clients home with the permission of the home owner that has the capability
of recording phone conversations presumably in a legal fashion.
2. Since it would be the mom turning on the recorder and changing tapes,
etc, the only actually illegal act would not be done by me.
3. While it may be illegal to make the recording, and any evidence gathered
thusly would be deemed inadmissible in court, listening to the tape after
the conversation took place would not be a legal risk.
4. She doesn't want to be morally responsible for hearing stuff about
mischief, boyfriends, bad language, bad mouthing mom, etc, etc, but a
disinterested third party could look past those things and make sure the
daughter wasn't dealing dope.
I almost gave in but then I checked myself with the old reliable
test. What if this is a test. What if J. Edgar Hoover himself is waitin' to
see if I'll do it. I know he does it all the time but I'll bet he's just
waitin' to catch me doin' it. Maybe it is completely legal, but I've got
plenty of other rattlesnakes to play with.

Two questions. Was I right legally? Is it ok for a parent to listen
in and violate the sanctity of a child's privacy? The dangers that are out
there lurking to invade our children's lives are real and immensely
dangerous. We have the instinct to take our children by the hand and hold
them back from stepping into traffic. At what point do cover our eyes and
let them step from the curb to see if a car is coming.

Scott,
As a parent I would have no problems recording my childs
telephone conversations if I felt there was something up. I would keep
this information to myself. There is no way I would tape my kids phone
and start telling people about it. I know of no provision in the law
that says your kids conversations can be taped because they are your
kids.(and you are not a party to the conversation)
I think even assisting your client in wiretaping would be
illegal. I can't see the difference in you knowingly assisting them in
this as opposed to knowingly assisting them in a burglary.
If there is an exception in the law regarding taping your childs
telephone conversations please let me know where it is. (I am sure this
issue has come up in the courts before).

Jim Wingate
Wingate Investigations
124 South Metcalf St.
Lima, Ohio 45801
419-225-6234

From: TLMassoc@aol.com
Since you know what the intentions of Mom are, and you helped mom set the
equipment, I can't help but htink that you are involved in a conspiracy which
in Michigan carries a worse penalty than the crime alone. Another .02.

Terry Mills

From: bhrodey@starnetinc.com
Sounds to me like you already know the answer, but to be on the safe side why don't you
review your state statutes to see what they say about exceptions which allow a parent to
wire-tap their child. Don't think you'll find it there and I know you won't find it in
the federal statutes either.

> I almost gave in but then I checked myself with the old reliable
> test. What if this is a test. What if J. Edgar Hoover himself is waitin' to
> see if I'll do it. I know he does it all the time but I'll bet he's just
> waitin' to catch me doin' it. Maybe it is completely legal, but I've got
> plenty of other rattlesnakes to play with.

Probably was a test, but only a "self-test" If you did anything but advise the client
that it's illegal and walk away from it you flunked.

> Two questions. Was I right legally? Is it ok for a parent to listen
> in and violate the sanctity of a child's privacy? The dangers that are out
> there lurking to invade our children's lives are real and immensely
> dangerous. We have the instinct to take our children by the hand and hold
> them back from stepping into traffic. At what point do cover our eyes and
> let them step from the curb to see if a car is coming.

While this argument might seem to have some validity it is merely a justification for
breaking the law. One might also argue that in an effort to protect a child from gang
involvement it "just might" be o.k. to shoot a gangbanger who is trying to recruit a son
or daughter. Granted, the emotions might say it's right but the court and a jury surely
won't.

Try this: If you have to give serious thought to whether or not something is illegal,
unethical or a conflict of interest, rather than playing with semantics and
rationalizations as you do in listing the mother's points above, just consider it to be
illegal, unethical or a conflict of interest and walk away from it. True, this is not a
glamorous as those notable "P.I."s the public reads about, you know, the ones who get
arrested, lose their licenses are continually being "hasseled" by the police but it
works for me.

Scott,
You have posed a very interesting question. Having viewed the
question and the various answers that have been coming in from all over,
I must agree with the person who, in a nutshell, said that if it looks,
smells, sounds, and tastes illegal, unethical, etc., than it probably
is.
HOWEVER, with that out of the way, let's kick this ball around a
little bit more. If the daughter is being suspected by the mother, who
is the owner of the home and the telephone that the alleged calls are
being placed on, does not the mother have a right to protect her own
property by whatever means possible? Yes, elaboration is coming...
Let's talk forfeiture laws. In some areas, if a child is using
a parents home, auto, property to commit crimes and is apprehended by
law enforcement agents, that property, even though it belongs to the
parent, whether they suspected or not, is going to be confiscated by the
prosecuting agency as a penalty.
Like a business that has the right to monitor it's employee's
e-mail (yeah, I know; another debatable topic)as well as notifying
employees that telephone calls MAY be monitored for security purposes,
this problem may fall within that realm. What if the mother made a
blanket statement to ALL members of the family that ALL telephone calls
were going to be recorded and monitored to prevent any possibilty that
her (the mother's) property could be placed in a position of jeopardy?
Chew on it for a while; we're talking hypotheticals now.
Don Cesaretti < cesare@gbsias.com>
New Jersey

Without commenting heavily on the eavesdropping aspect (in Georgia it would be
illegal, parent/child or not), the forfeiture aspect carries alot of weight in
my opinion that SOMETHING must be done.

In Georgia, and by federal forfeiture statutes, an otherwise innocent property
owner can lose an asset if they knew, or should have known, that the property
was being used for an illegal (and qualifying) purpose. Landlords lose rental
property to forfeiture quite oftenwhen the police have been to the house time after time for
drug selling, etc., and finally decide to go after the landlord for permitting
this type of use.

Strikes against your client: 1) Prior arrest/conviction of the apparently
adult child for possession/distribution; 2) Current suspicion, causing the
property owner to take some form of affirmative (albeit illegal) action.

The odds of losing a home to forfeiture for this type of activity is remote;
however, it's time to do something. My opinion: the daughter's out the door.

Bob
The MHB Group
"The Small Business for Small Businesses"
Atlanta, Georgia USA
bobg@mindspring.com

There was a movie by that name--whatever.
Re the telephone tap of the minor's phone conversation--the courts
have ruled that the minor, above a certain age-12 or 14 I believe, has
the right to expect certain privacy re their phone calls - BUT - the
courts have also ruled that the parent has the right to protect their
property and rights. Re the confiscation of property these days, I
would expect a parent to make reasonable effort to secure their
property i.e. search of property, telephone recording, etc. I am
going to have to check but I think maybe the parent has to notify the
minor of such actions prior to their taking place -- i.e. a general
notice that they will be checking rooms, vehicles, phones, etc.
The problem I have with the original message: the agent
involved said that he felt that it was not legal to install the
recorder but he allowed the parent to convince him to do so. FIRST
MISTAKE! SECOND MISTAKE: he didn't listen to the tapes because he
didn't want to be involved in the situation. That sounds like Bubba
Bill--he smoked but he didn't inhale. He was wrong in the first place
by smoking and he was wrong in the second by not inhaling since he was
already breaking the law. If the agent felt something was wrong, he
should have bowed out right there. If you aren't happy with a
situation--something is probably wrong and you don't need to be there.
Just my .02. If it feels wrong, it probably is and you don't
need the potential problems (which include loss of license, lawsuits,
criminal charges, etc.). That particular situation just wasn't worth
it.

Lee
lgriggs@msegroup.com

From: red@ahoynet.com
Here is a little case law on wire tapping, draw your own conclusions but I
can tell you from personal experience that wire tap laws do not apply to
private citizens.


II. Factual and Procedural Background

Harold D. Murdock (hereafter, ìMurdockî), while serving as the President of
the Detroit School Board, became embroiled in a divorce action
with his wife (hereafter, ìMrs. Murdockî) with whom he owned and operated a
funeral home. In the Spring of 1985, Mrs. Murdock became
suspicious of Murdockís conduct, both business and personal, and decided to
record telephone calls of the funeral home on business
extension phones in her home located next to the funeral home.[1] She
purchased the recording equipment from Radio Shack, attached it to
the two business extensions in her home, along with on/off switches which
permitted her to control the operation of the tape recorders, and
systemically recorded phone calls for about three months.[2] After Mrs.
Murdockís son by an earlier marriage advised her that the

recording was unlawful, she stopped the practice. By the time she stopped,
she had accumulated two shoe boxes of taped conversations that
she had logged and described.[3] Later, a story in a Detroit newspaper
describing the action of the Detroit School Board with respect to a milk
contract with a local dairy led Mrs. Murdock to believe that her husband had
engaged in the act of bribery. She thought this because of the
content of one of the intercepted and recorded conversations which she had
heard, a conversation with an official of the dairy. Acting
anonymously, she made an extract of the conversation and mailed it to the
dairy that had lost the milk contract. The recipient turned it over to
the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney and a newspaper. The newspaper
published an article outlining the bribery scheme. As a result of
the story, federal agents began a criminal investigation and, eventually,
the defendant was indicted for income tax evasion because the
$90,000 bribe was not reported as income.[4]

Murdock moved to dismiss the indictment or, in the alternative, to suppress
the taped conversation based on the exclusionary provisions of
18 U.S.C. ß 2515.[5] The district court agreed with the governmentís
position that, by reason of the provisions of Section 2510(5)(a), the
statutory prohibitions involving intercepted conversations did not apply to
an extension line of a business phone or to a
recording made of a captured conversation. Alternatively, the district court
held that the statutory exclusion provisions of Section 2515 did
not apply to the government where it played no part in the interception of
the conversation. Consequently, the district court denied
Murdockís motion to exclude the intercepted conversation.

Murdock entered a conditional plea of guilty under a plea agreement wherein
he reserved his right to appeal.[6] The district court sentenced
Murdock to one year and one day in prison and imposed a $5000 fine. Murdock
is free on bond pending this appeal.

Why not tell mom to buy her darling daughter a cheapo cordless phone; one
that works in the 49mhz range, and does not channel select or scan? She
can then use a handheld scanner to listen or not listen to that freq.

It's not a wiretap, there is no real expectation of privacy and the laws
regarding the interception of public airwaves in this regard is limited to
non-disclosure of what has been heard.




Regards,

Jeffrey Cox


the Federal Communications Privacy Act (sp) was amended just a
couple of years ago to include CORDLESS phones (not just cellular phones),
making it illegal nationwide to listen in on cordless conversations. It was
already illegal per many local statutes.This is often discussed in Popular
Communications and other scanning magazines. Ask PI Magazine- after a story
appeared within it's pages where a PI boasted how he gets most of his info
that way, readers sent in copies of the act to complain. John Grogan (818)
882-6969/Los Angeles
JGroganPI@aol.com

Jeffrey (et al):

Wrong! The monitoring of cordless telephone communications was recently
lumped in to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The
monitoring of cordless conversations is now equal to that of monitoring
cellular conversations...illegal! I would strongly suggest you consult
counsel before proceeding any further in this regard.

Regards<
DOUG
drunyon@abcs.com


=To all,
Disregard my previous little piece of advice regarding
monitoring a cordless. I would advise against monitoring anyone's
phone conversations without being a party accoring to law in your state.
My comment was a bit premature. Darn! I discovered I am not perfect.
Jim Wingate
Wingate Investigations
124 South Metcalf St.
Lima, Ohio 45801
419-225-6234

=Enough speculation already. Please find the following and read it.
If need a link, go to my web page, look for the US CODE link, and
search for this .......
TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I--CRIMES

CHAPTER 119--WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND
INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

Sec. 2511. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or
electronic communications prohibited


--
Mac Gray
Gray & Associates
graypi@main.citynet.net
http://www.citynet.net/personal/sharkpi/


In California, it's against the law - see Penal Code 632.6

Tim Friend
PI in CA
tfriend@best.com

All of this discussion aside.

I said teach mom how to do a wiretap, then bow out.

If I want to tape conversations going on in MY OWN HOME you bet your tooshie
I am going to do it (and have). Who is going to sue? The ACLU? The
legallity issue only becomes a factor if the intercepted information is
going to be used in a court case or legal matter. To confront a teen ageer
with the contents of her telephone conversation does not fall under these
legal issues.

If you kids are on drugs, dealing drugs, or otherwise doing really self
destructive things, I would hope that as a loving parent, you would take
extraordinary measures to protect them from themselves.

This isn't a question of legal/illegal. She didn't come in to get tap info
against her husband whom she is divorcing, she came in for help saving her
kids life possibly and I personally would think that the only truly
"ethically" thing to do is give her the knowledge to help her kid.

It is called "hard love" and it may be necessary.

Leah Wesolowski L.P.I.


WESOLOWSKI INVESTIGATIONS
164 Manningham Drive
Madison, AL. 35758
(205)464-0230
Leahwes@iquest.com

A few years ago, scanner manufacturers were required not only to "block" the
800 section used by cellular telephones, but to also make it "not easy" to
modify the circuitry to get this 800 section revived. (There are books that
show a ten-second modification to regain cellular access for many Radio
Shack/Bearcat/Uniden etc. scanners, both handheld and base models. There is
no crime to "possess" the older models, only to "(mis)use" them. John Grogan
(818) 882-6969/Los Angeles
JGroganPI@aol.com

On 20 Aug 96 at 19:45, Jim Wingate wrote:

> Excellant idea. Anything going over the "airways" that is picked
> up is not confidential as far as I am aware. There is also no expectation
> of privacy that would be infringed upon.

The guideline for determining whether a "communication" can be monitored is
whether any portion of the transmission passes through a "hard wire," which
both cellular and cordless phone calls do. The reason that it is not illegal
(at least by federal law) to monitor a cordless phone call (the frequency
between the base and the handset) is because there is a statutory exemption.
The frequency between the handset and the base is a specific exception to the
law prohibiting "wiretapping," and it is not illegal to monitor that frequency
(again, by federal law) because of that exemption.

Bob
The MHB Group
"The Small Business for Small Businesses"
Atlanta, Georgia USA

Bob (et al):

As I have said previously, this is dead wrong! The Electronic
Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) was recently ammended to include
cordless telephone conversations. This puts them in the same light as
cellular conversations...ILLEGAL TO MONITOR. This is federal law. Though
it is a very technical and boring read, I would suggest you read the
relevant portions of ECPA...or consult your legal counsel to do it for you.
Might also make for an interesting conversation with your local United
States Attorney's office. :)

Regards,
DOUG

TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I--CRIMES

CHAPTER 119--WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND
INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS
*************************************************************************Please gals and guys!!! There is no mystery here!!
The link you will find on the below ref. web site will lead you to a
search of the United States Code. Search for 18 USC 2511, it will come up
as the first option. Read it....there will be little doubt about what you
can legally do...as to how you choose to circumvent the
provisions....that is totally up to you.
If you are wanting to tape any conversation, refer to the 1/2 party list
completed by Ralph Thomas. Just remember, in every instance, YOU must be
a party to the conversation!!
--
Mac Gray
Gray & Associates
graypi@main.citynet.net
http://www.citynet.net/personal/sharkpi/

Group:

My interest in the radio spectrum has been going on for several years (I am
a ham radio operator/advanced license-KB7FTB). Therefore I am always
tinkering with radios and their monitoring capabilities. So I wanted to
let everyone know what I have been told when talking to other hams about
this subject.

It is illegal to knowingly monitor a telephone conversation that is
transmitted by radio. This is technically the equivalent of a hardwire
tap. One may ask why the 49mhz portion of the radio spectrum isn't
restricted on scanners like the 900mhz cellular portion is? Well,
generally speaking, this portion of the radio spectrum is allocated as
non-commercial radio spectrum and is used for far more than cordless
telephones. (ie. baby monitors, walkie talkies, wireless alarm systems,
ect...)

The 900mhz portion of the radio spectrum that is used for cellular
telephones is allocated for commercial use, and therefore, because of the
nature of it's use (telephonic communication with reasonable expectation of
privacy), it is now required to be blocked on all new scanners in the USA.
You can still purchase the unblocked scanners in Canada.

As for easy conversion of scanners so that they will receive the 900mhz
band; forget converting the new ones. Some require technical expertise,
while others cannot be converted at all. Some of the older scanners are
quite simple to convert. If you have an older one and are curious if it
can be converted, E-mail me with the brand and model and I will find out.
I may even be able to tell you how. FOR EXPERIMENTAL USE ONLY!

I hope this helps someone,

Richard L. Doyle


**********************************
* *
* RICHARD DOYLE INVESTIGATIONS *
* PO BOX 2569 *
* ALBANY, OR 97321 *
* TELEPHONE: 541/917-0898 *
* *
**********************************


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