Have you ever had the feeling someone was listening in on your personal conversations or your privacy was being infringed upon? Have you ever had the suspicion there were an extra set of eyes or ears on you?
Many of us have grown accustomed to the idea that information we exchange with others and our actions, publically and privately, may be spied on in some capacity. Cell phones, land lines, videos and microphones are all devices that can be used to monitor people.
With wiretapping allegations swirling around the news recently, we’re taking a closer look at the subject. If your privacy has ever been invaded or you want to keep yourself informed in order to protect your rights…we’ve got you covered.
Schulze Law can help answer any questions or concerns regarding your privacy and safety. Contact us today if you need assistance with understanding the legality of wiretapping or how to take action against defending your confidentiality.
What exactly is wire tapping? It’s the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. The wire tap originally got its name because, historically, the monitoring connection used was an actual electrical tap on the telephone line.
Who might be behind the execution of a wiretap? Some examples include; hackers, extortionists, employers, ex-partners, government officials or the press. These wire tappers may crash your private party via your smartphone by eavesdropping on your calls, reading and sending text messages and emails or by modifying or changing information on your interface.
Massachusetts Wiretap Law is considered one of the most restrictive in the entire nation. So residents in our state may rest a little easier knowing there are stricter laws with more protection to keep you safe. The details covered in the wiretap law, Massachusetts statute chapter 272, section 99, are quite expansive. It outlines more than simply wire communications. It also details situations ranging from how law enforcement can conduct wiretaps to gather evidence in criminal cases to what the average citizen can and can’t do.
What does the Massachusetts statute cover?
The statute focuses on wiretapping and oral communication. In regards to oral communication, audio recording is the main subject. Stand-alone video and photography are not addressed in the law.
Massachusetts requires all-party consent, while Federal wiretap law requires one-party consent to record a conversation. This part of the law is extremely important.
The statute looks at two aspects of the issue: What law enforcement can do and what citizens cannot do.
In regards to law enforcement, the goal is to give the power, “under strict judicial supervision,” to investigate organized crime through surveillance measures.
First written in 1968, the statute identifies “the uncontrolled development and unrestricted use” of electronic recording, which poses “grave dangers to the privacy of all citizens of The Commonwealth.”
Consequently, “the secret use of such devices by private individuals must be prohibited.”
The devices are defined in the statute as anything “capable of transmitting, receiving, amplifying or recording a wire or oral communication.”
Possessing anything that records audio in a situation where it seems the possessor intended to secretly record a conversation violates the statute.
Public vs. Private Communication
The statute makes no clear distinction between public and private communication. Basically, a recording can still be secret when the communication was made in a public setting.
Under the statute, the way in which a communication was recorded is what makes a recording considered to be secret. The communication itself doesn’t have to be executed in a secret setting to be protected from secret recording. Essentially, there is no differentiation between what is considered public or private. The way the information is obtained is the integral part of the statute.
Most states and the federal wiretap statute require only one-party consent to record a conversation. This means only one participant in a conversation can legally record communications without notifying the other parties.
Massachusetts, and a few other states, necessitate all-party consent. One participant in a conversation can’t record without the other participants’ recognition.
Committing or attempting to commit an interception (or having someone else execute it for you), is a felony. The punishment is up to five years in prison or two and a half years in jail as well as fines up to $10,000. Or a person convicted could receive a combination of a fine and a prison sentence.
If a person utilizes any info or subject matter acquired through an illegal interception (even if they didn’t personally commit the interception), they are guilty of a misdemeanor. The punishment is up to two years in jail or a $5,000 fine, or both. Wiretapping comes with severe consequences.
How to Tell if your Cell Phone is Being Tracked, Tapped or Monitored
Cell phones are everywhere these days and technological advancements continue to rapidly increase. Smartphones are used from everything from making calls, sending and receiving text messages, social media site access, banking, passwords, apps and personal information. Should you be worried that your privacy is at risk with all the information that is stored on or passing through your phone on a regular basis? We’re not here to instill fear or paranoia but if you have been a victim or suspect you are being wiretapped, you have rights.
In order to avoid being wiretapped and your privacy from being exposed, check out these signs that may help you identify if your cell is being tracked, tapped or monitored in some way. Frequently, these signs can be subtle and illusive. Luckily, when you know what to look out for, you can uncover if your cell phone is being spied on and avert a potentially shocking and violating situation.
If your phone has several of the following indicators, you may be a victim of wiretapping and spy software:
- Strange or New Behavior
If your phone starts acting oddly or you detect any changes in your cell phone’s behavior, this may be a red flag.
– Are there sudden differences in its lighting or does it flash when it is not being used?
-Does it make strange noises or beeping sounds?
-Does it inexplicably turn on or off by itself?
-Is there background noise like static, clicking, beeping or voices?
– Does it display any other random or bizarre behavior?
It is not uncommon for phones to act up or do something strange on occasion. If these signs are occurring on a regular basis or more frequently than usual, you may have a wiretap situation on your hands or your phone is being accessed by hidden spyware.
- Pay Attention To The Battery
Does the battery get smoking hot even if it’s not being used? This could mean there is wiretap software running in the background which causes the phone to continuously run. Cell batteries decline over time and with overuse. If that’s not the culprit for the sudden heatwave, it may be spyware.
Is your battery constantly drained or out of juice? If there is a rapid drop in your battery life or it begins acting differently, take notice. Over time it is common for battery life to diminish due to the natural aging of the phone. If you are constantly charging your phone and there are sudden, dramatic changes in your battery life, this can be a sign of spy software. The cheaper programs will radically affect the battery life while more expensive programs may be more challenging to identify.
- Turning The Phone On and Off
Does your phone randomly turn on or off? Do you have trouble when you try to shut it down? These strange behaviors can indicate that someone or something else is controlling your phone. If the battery is charged, but it shuts down regularly by itself this could mean there is the presence of buggy spyware. If you attempt to turn your phone off and the process is delayed or can’t be done, this could mean the phone is tapped.
- Note Text Messages
Have you received unusual text messages? These may contain random groupings of numbers, symbols, or characters. The presence of secret coded texts may be a flag that spy software is sending the messages.
- Changes To Your Phone Bill or Monthly Data Use
Have you noticed an increase in your phone bill? Has your data usage skyrocketed for no apparent reason? Be on the alert for any unexplained increases in your monthly data usage or the cost of your bill.
Please keep in mind that these phone behaviors do not automatically confirm the presence of wiretapping and spyware. You may experience one or some of these signs on your phone at one time or another. If there are sudden or drastic changes in your phone that can’t be identified or explained, this may indicate something more than just your phone randomly acting up (as they can do without spyware). If your phone shows several of the above signs, it may be beneficial for you to dig a bit deeper to uncover the root cause. You may be a victim of wiretapping and you have rights to protect yourself.
What to Do If You Have Been Charged With Wiretapping or Think You Have Been A Victim of Wiretapping:
It is important to consult with an experienced attorney if you have been charged under the Massachusetts wiretapping law or believe you may have been a victim of wiretapping. It is vital to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible if you have been charged with this offense or need assistance if you have been victimized.
If you suspect you have been wiretapped, here are some steps to take to confirm your suspicions.
- Use a phone tap detector
- Install an app that detects a tap
- Ask your phone carrier for help
- Ask the police for help
Massachusetts law is extremely strict and it may be challenging to build a defense against it. This also means you have rights to protect yourself against being wiretapped. Contact Schulze Law today with any questions or concerns.
Learn more about the Massachusetts Wiretapping Law here: