This is Part II of a series of articles analyzing specific aspects of the Obama Administration’s White Paper (available for download here), recommending legislative changes to combat online piracy and counterfeiting.  Click here for if you missed our overview of the White Paper in Part I.

David Makarewicz is an attorney practicing internet law concerning privacy rights and copyright defense for websites and blogs. Visit Dave at Sites and Blogs to keep up with breaking Internet news.

David Makarewicz, Contributing Writer
Activist PostOne of the most troubling recommendations in the White Paper is the Obama Administration’s request for Congress to grant its enforcement agencies the power “seek a wiretap for criminal copyright and trademark offenses.”  This would require Congress to amend the Wiretap Act, which does not currently include copyright and trademark infringement among the offenses that justify a privacy invasion as extreme as a wiretap.

In order to preserve the private nature of communications, the Wiretap Act (as amended by the The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986), 18 U.S.C. § 2511, makes it generally illegal for anyone, including the Government, to “intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication.” However, the law has carved out certain exceptions to this rule under which the Government can request permission to intercept certain communications for a limited time.

Wiretapping is only permitted for certain types of offenses.  The United States Supreme Court has explained that wiretapping is only permitted “when law enforcement officials are investigating specified serious crimes.”
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