What is Electronic Surveillance?
Electronic surveillance refers to the acquisition of the contents of wire, radio and other electronic communications. Electronic surveillance has emerged as a critical tool for detecting and intercepting international terrorists within the United States and overseas. Legal Basis for Electronic Surveillance There are two main frameworks for electronic surveillance. One, based on Title III of the U.S. Code, covers surveillance in the investigation of serious domestic crimes. The second, based on FISA, covers foreign intelligence surveillance and serves as the main tool for electronic surveillance of international terrorists. Congress passed FISA in 1978 in the wake of revelations that the White House authorized warrantless surveillance of Americans. In brief, the legislation stated: • FISA would be the exclusive means governing the use of electronic surveillance in international terrorism and other foreign intelligence investigations. • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and NSA w