Myers Service, Inc. – MSI Detective Services provides professional debugging, electronic countermeasures, bug and tap sweeps to businesses, private parties, governmental agencies and law firms. Our specially trained technicians use state of the art equipment to provide the best and most thorough debugging sweeps in the Chicagoland area. Our clients include Local, State and Federal governmental agencies, Fortune 500 Corporations as well as private individuals, Law Firms and Small Businesses. Our tools include Spectrum Analyzers, Non-Linear Junction Detectors, RF Detectors, Carrier Current Detectors, Time Domain Reflectometers as well as other tools of the trade.
Bug and Tap has changed over recent years. New methods of listening in including using the computer and internet, cell phones and other methods as an easy and effective way to eavesdrop on unsuspecting parties. State and Federal laws have responded by broadening the laws and making stiffer penalties for eavesdropping. The courts are still scrambling to better define what is and what is not legal. Since we are not lawyers, we cannot tell you what is legal and illegal as counsel. We can describe to you our understanding of the laws and what we believe is right and wrong.
We get calls daily from clients who believe their cell phones are tapped or people who want to tap a cell phone. Tapping any phone is illegal unless you advise the parties speaking that the conversation is being recorded. There are exceptions to the case such as in states where the Federal Law of one party consent exists. In Illinois for instance, All Parties must be notified and must consent of any conversation that is being recorded. Exceptions to this include recent case that that allows you to record a conversation for what is called “Enhanced Note Taking”.
I personally had attempted to bring charges against a suspect who tapped our conversation without my consent. I was interrogating him for suspected employee theft when I heard a beeping coming from his brief case in a small Southern Cook County Suburb. I asked the suspect what the noise was and noticed that his face became very nervous. Being a trained interrogator, the uneasiness suggested that he was doing something that he knew was wrong. Especially since I had earlier requested his permission to record our conversation which he denied. I asked him if there was a recorder in his brief case to which he admitted. He then asked my permission to record the conversation. The gall!!! I said no and excused myself from the room. My client and I agreed that this person was most likely a thief but was definitely an eavesdropper so we called the local police.
Everyone including the police, the lawyers, myself, my client (who worked in loss prevention) all thought the crime was clear as day. Illinois law clearly says all party consent. But when the court date rolled around, his lawyer had done research and found case law that countered this. The case law states that if you are using the recording for your own personal note taking purposes, then there is no crime. For instance, you are talking to someone but do not want to write, cannot write or just want more accurate notes of the conversation. As long as these recording are not played for other parties, duplicated, published or otherwise made public, then there is no crime.
Since my suspect never had time to play the tape for anyone (nor would I likely ever find out if he did), there was no crime and the charges were dropped. So to end the story, the employee was terminated but we never pinned the theft case on him. Although we did do a background check, something the client never did before hiring, and found numerous theft and other criminal convictions in his past. Had the client contacted us before hiring, he would never have had the opportunity to steal in the first place.
It’s best to consult with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in the area of law. That will prove hard to find since there are not many cases in the courts yet. Although the number is growing with the number of products out there growing by the day. Check out this link to see what is available: http://www.uspystore.com/audio-surveillance.html
There are many websites out there that keep track of the changing laws in each state. Florida and Illinois for instance, are what is called All Party Consent States. This means all parties involved in a conversation must consent to the recording. Indiana and Wisconsin are One Party Consent States. This means that if one or more persons who consent to have a conversation recorded (this can mean you giving permission if you are involved in the conversation), then there is no crime. There are additional things to consider such as not recording the conversation for criminal purposes. Here is a good website to check on the ever changing state laws: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html