What is Telephone Tapping / Wire Tapping? Telephone tapping (or wire tapping / wiretapping) is the process of monitoring telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. Private detectives, police officers and government agents who conduct telephone tapping and wire tapping often use spy gear or surveillance equipment to do the job. The telephone or wire tap received its name because the monitoring connection was an actual electrical tap that was placed on the telephone line.
Private investigators and police officers may need to tap phones during a case. Therefore, it is critical that detectives understand the technical aspects and procedures of setting up effective wire taps. This includes understanding the necessary equipment, how to install it without being detected, and how to pick-up the signals transmitted by the device. In addition, private eyes should have an understanding of the legal constraints for using such surveillance methods in their area, or the area in which the surveillance is being conducted.
Legal wiretapping by a government agency is also called “lawful interception”. Passive wiretapping monitors or records the conversation traffic, while active wiretapping alters or otherwise affects it.
List of One-Party Consent States
District of Columbia
Michigan (see other statute)
Rhode Island (see case law)
South Carolina (no statute, see case law)
Wisconsin (see other statute)
List of Two-Party Consent States
- New Hampshire
For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.