"Monitoring and/or recording of telephone, verbal, or nonverbal communications, with or without the use of electronic or mechanical devices, fall into two principal categories: interceptions which are accomplished with the approval of a court (judicial). and those for which court approval is not required (nonjudicial). The purpose of either type of interception is to monitor the contents of the communication for criminal significance. Wiretaps and other means of intercepting wire, oral, or electronic communications are governed by 18 U.S.C. sections 2510-2520 (Public Law 99-508--commonly referred to as title III), enacted October 21, 1986. Essentially, the law provides that, with judicial approval in the form of a court order. telephone and other verbal and electronic communications may be monitored and recorded--even when no party to the communication has given prior consent. (Chapters C and D set forth procedures that must be followed with regard to court-ordered interceptions and pen register devices/trap and trace services.) [...] The fact that nonjudicial-type interceptions are outside the prohibitions of title III does not mean that such interceptions are free from restrictions. To the contrary. the Federal Communications Act and the fourth and sixth amendments to the Constitution are pertinent and present problems which, in some areas (including the use of electronic or mechanical trailing/tracking devices), are not fully resolved. The propriety and law concerning certain other nonjudicial interceptions and related disclosures require that guidance be sought on a case-by-case basis from ATF [Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms] counsel and/or the U.S. attorney, as to whether such interception should be made and the level of approval necessary."
ATF O 3530.2; Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Order 3530.2
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