Wiretapping has been considered as an essential law enforcement tool for the purposes of foreign intelligence gathering. However, other spheres argue that wiretapping and electronic interception of information/ eavesdropping are a violation against the individuals’ right to privacy. The two premises of security and rights to privacy present the general overview of the federal statutes. They prescribe wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping of the procedures established for the law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering purposes. Depending on one’s perspective, wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping are either “dirty business,” essential law enforcement tools, or both. With different paradigms towards the legality or lack of it on the issue of wiretapping, the Congress has over the years sought to reach equilibrium between matters of national security and the civil liberty of individuals (Merrick, 2006 p63).
Communication service providers have often faced many relentless requests from the law enforcement bodies. They are required to submit communications for the purpose of intelligence surveillance. This access by consumer standards is regarded as a breech to privacy especially when the interceptions are done without a consent or authorization. The concerns of individuals have spiraled with the key issues of privacy and civil liberty being addressed to. Subsequently, the legislative processes have provided varying approaches towards the issue. The Fourth Amendment is considered as a valuable legislation that advocates for the preservation of liberty, expression of ideas and justice in the society (Richard, 2005 p49).
Legislative mechanisms such as the Title III, outlaw the acts of wiretapping of illegal information interception. Besides, it is illegal to possess wiretapping equipment or reveal details acquired through unauthorized wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping.
With further measures such as the prohibition to access stored communication, unlawful wiretapping and unlawful disclosures of information, there are significant milestones in the promulgation of individuals’ civil liberty. Over the years, the specifics of the state law and statutory provisions on wiretaps, security and foreign intelligence amendments have occurred due to changes in the technological infrastructure and increase in the crime rates (Merrick, 2006 p73).
Today’s world has become significantly technologically advanced, leading to increasing demands of intelligence surveillance. The issues of security and civil liberty have been a centre of debate. Similarly, the issue of wiretapping for the purpose of surveillance and national security has been a key point of many discussions. The use of wiretaps in the national security cases was effective commencing in 1972, as ruled by the Supreme Court. The Government spying was an extensive case in the sixties and seventies, in efforts of curbing foreign crimes. Therefore, the Supreme Court intervened through the strict direction of gathering a court order and the approval of a judge before conducting any surveillance (Richard, 2005 p59). The issues surrounding the state of security and civil liberty have been addressed in the Fourth Amendment that advocates for the value of expression of ideas. Through the Fourth Amendment, the value of privacy is of key concern despite the need to guard information exchanges and the role it plays in a crime (Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, 2003 p18).
There is much controversy and concern between the issues of maintaining national security and the breech of civil liberty. Wiretapping has been advocated for in the process of intelligence surveillance. Consequently, there are gaps in the comprehensive understanding of intelligence surveillance through the information security systems and practices (Seamon, 2002 p36).
The practice of wiretapping in intelligence surveillance has become one of the efficient ways of combating any crimes in the United States and other nations globally. Similarly, security and intelligence systems continuously monitor the exchange of information, and the wiretapping system has contributed significantly in the monitoring process. Information security refers to the integrity, confidentiality and availability of any required information infrastructure. There are established policies and operational procedures that ensure information security (Merrick, 2006 p33). However, there are no clear mechanisms and an overall body that regulate the processes of information security. With the technological advancements, the world has been revolutionized to a global village that poses its own merits and demerits in equal measure. Subsequently, there has been increased vulnerability to information attacks not only at the individual and organizational but also national and international levels. It is worth noting that, institutions are prone to criminal attacks, through their information communication systems, especially when there are some shortcomings. The modern means of communication, such as the Internet, provide the best leeway and environments to gather necessary, often vital information and accomplish their form of attacks. In this regard, the issues of intelligence surveillance have captured attention due to the debates of privacy versus national security by all means (United States, 2008 p36).
The Congress and other pertinent stakeholders have been seeking to find some balance between matters of national security and the civil liberty of individuals. The First and Fourth Amendments put emphasis on the free value of expression of ideas and respect for privacy. There is also added value on the preservation of justice and that of a free society (Richard, 2005 p39). The exploitation of wiretapping in the federal security concerns has been effective among many countries, for instance, America. The order in place is because of a ruling by the Supreme Court. Although considered as a means of the Government, the method has been widely used in efforts of curbing foreign crimes (Seamon, 2002 p16). It is worth mentioning that there should bea court order and the approval of a judge before any surveillance is going to be conducted. The processes information security and the guiding of intelligence systems involve the use of radical technological systems whose functionality is considered crucial. The issue of information security in the United States is impounded by the lack of the official mechanisms and bodies that govern security systems in the information infrastructure. The private sector, as it has been established, plays a key role in the ownership of information elements as included in the information infrastructure. As a result, the development of a unified regulatory structure and its field enforcement in the protection of information systems has been nearly impossible to achieve. The responsibility of guarding and protecting information infrastructure is left pending with uncertainty (Robert, 2002 p26).
With increased interconnectivity in the nation and the world, the cases of information theft, misuse and information compromise have heightened significantly. The security of information systems that warrant integrity and protection of communication links has been overly breached and difficult to maintain. Technological advancements particularly in the 20th century have resulted to the erosion of privacy. Law-enforcers frequently use the current information and communication systems to detect any potential crimes in efforts of intelligence surveillance. This among other law enforcement activities has eradicated the privacy levels that are provided for in the Fourth Amendment (Richard, 2005 p56).