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CITE

    18 USC Sec. 2511                                            01/05/2009

EXPCITE

    TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    PART I - CRIMES
    CHAPTER 119 - WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND
                   INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

HEAD

    Sec. 2511. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic
      communications prohibited

STATUTE

      (1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any
    person who -
        (a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or
      procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept,
      any wire, oral, or electronic communication;
        (b) intentionally uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other
      person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or
      other device to intercept any oral communication when -
          (i) such device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a
        signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in
        wire communication; or
          (ii) such device transmits communications by radio, or
        interferes with the transmission of such communication; or
          (iii) such person knows, or has reason to know, that such
        device or any component thereof has been sent through the mail
        or transported in interstate or foreign commerce; or
          (iv) such use or endeavor to use (A) takes place on the
        premises of any business or other commercial establishment the
        operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or
        (B) obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information
        relating to the operations of any business or other commercial
        establishment the operations of which affect interstate or
        foreign commerce; or
          (v) such person acts in the District of Columbia, the
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of
        the United States;
        (c) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any
      other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic
      communication, knowing or having reason to know that the
      information was obtained through the interception of a wire,
      oral, or electronic communication in violation of this
      subsection;
        (d) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of
      any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having
      reason to know that the information was obtained through the
      interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in
      violation of this subsection; or
        (e)(i) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to
      any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic
      communication, intercepted by means authorized by sections
      2511(2)(a)(ii), 2511(2)(b)-(c), 2511(2)(e), 2516, and 2518 of
      this chapter, (ii) knowing or having reason to know that the
      information was obtained through the interception of such a
      communication in connection with a criminal investigation, (iii)
      having obtained or received the information in connection with a
      criminal investigation, and (iv) with intent to improperly
      obstruct, impede, or interfere with a duly authorized criminal
      investigation,
    shall be punished as provided in subsection (4) or shall be subject
    to suit as provided in subsection (5).
      (2)(a)(i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an
    operator of a switchboard, or an officer, employee, or agent of a
    provider of wire or electronic communication service, whose
    facilities are used in the transmission of a wire or electronic
    communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication in
    the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity
    which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his service or to
    the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that
    service, except that a provider of wire communication service to
    the public shall not utilize service observing or random monitoring
    except for mechanical or service quality control checks.
      (ii) Notwithstanding any other law, providers of wire or
    electronic communication service, their officers, employees, and
    agents, landlords, custodians, or other persons, are authorized to
    provide information, facilities, or technical assistance to persons
    authorized by law to intercept wire, oral, or electronic
    communications or to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in
    section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978,
    if such provider, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord,
    custodian, or other specified person, has been provided with -
        (A) a court order directing such assistance or a court order
      pursuant to section 704 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
      Act of 1978 signed by the authorizing judge, or
        (B) a certification in writing by a person specified in section
      2518(7) of this title or the Attorney General of the United
      States that no warrant or court order is required by law, that
      all statutory requirements have been met, and that the specified
      assistance is required,
    setting forth the period of time during which the provision of the
    information, facilities, or technical assistance is authorized and
    specifying the information, facilities, or technical assistance
    required. No provider of wire or electronic communication service,
    officer, employee, or agent thereof, or landlord, custodian, or
    other specified person shall disclose the existence of any
    interception or surveillance or the device used to accomplish the
    interception or surveillance with respect to which the person has
    been furnished a court order or certification under this chapter,
    except as may otherwise be required by legal process and then only
    after prior notification to the Attorney General or to the
    principal prosecuting attorney of a State or any political
    subdivision of a State, as may be appropriate. Any such disclosure,
    shall render such person liable for the civil damages provided for
    in section 2520. No cause of action shall lie in any court against
    any provider of wire or electronic communication service, its
    officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other
    specified person for providing information, facilities, or
    assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order, statutory
    authorization, or certification under this chapter.
      (iii) If a certification under subparagraph (ii)(B) for
    assistance to obtain foreign intelligence information is based on
    statutory authority, the certification shall identify the specific
    statutory provision and shall certify that the statutory
    requirements have been met.
      (b) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an officer,
    employee, or agent of the Federal Communications Commission, in the
    normal course of his employment and in discharge of the monitoring
    responsibilities exercised by the Commission in the enforcement of
    chapter 5 of title 47 of the United States Code, to intercept a
    wire or electronic communication, or oral communication transmitted
    by radio, or to disclose or use the information thereby obtained.
      (c) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person
    acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic
    communication, where such person is a party to the communication or
    one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to
    such interception.
      (d) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person not
    acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic
    communication where such person is a party to the communication or
    where one of the parties to the communication has given prior
    consent to such interception unless such communication is
    intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious
    act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States
    or of any State.
      (e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title or section
    705 or 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, it shall not be
    unlawful for an officer, employee, or agent of the United States in
    the normal course of his official duty to conduct electronic
    surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act of 1978, as authorized by that Act.
      (f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of
    this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall
    be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government
    of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign
    communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in
    accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a
    foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other
    than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the
    Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in
    this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which
    electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and
    the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic
    communications may be conducted.
      (g) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of
    this title for any person -
        (i) to intercept or access an electronic communication made
      through an electronic communication system that is configured so
      that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the
      general public;
        (ii) to intercept any radio communication which is transmitted -
          (I) by any station for the use of the general public, or that
        relates to ships, aircraft, vehicles, or persons in distress;
          (II) by any governmental, law enforcement, civil defense,
        private land mobile, or public safety communications system,
        including police and fire, readily accessible to the general
        public;
          (III) by a station operating on an authorized frequency
        within the bands allocated to the amateur, citizens band, or
        general mobile radio services; or
          (IV) by any marine or aeronautical communications system;
        (iii) to engage in any conduct which -
          (I) is prohibited by section 633 of the Communications Act of
        1934; or
          (II) is excepted from the application of section 705(a) of
        the Communications Act of 1934 by section 705(b) of that Act;
        (iv) to intercept any wire or electronic communication the
      transmission of which is causing harmful interference to any
      lawfully operating station or consumer electronic equipment, to
      the extent necessary to identify the source of such interference;
      or
        (v) for other users of the same frequency to intercept any
      radio communication made through a system that utilizes
      frequencies monitored by individuals engaged in the provision or
      the use of such system, if such communication is not scrambled or
      encrypted.
      (h) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter -
        (i) to use a pen register or a trap and trace device (as those
      terms are defined for the purposes of chapter 206 (relating to
      pen registers and trap and trace devices) of this title); or
        (ii) for a provider of electronic communication service to
      record the fact that a wire or electronic communication was
      initiated or completed in order to protect such provider, another
      provider furnishing service toward the completion of the wire or
      electronic communication, or a user of that service, from
      fraudulent, unlawful or abusive use of such service.
      (i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person
    acting under color of law to intercept the wire or electronic
    communications of a computer trespasser transmitted to, through, or
    from the protected computer, if -
        (I) the owner or operator of the protected computer authorizes
      the interception of the computer trespasser's communications on
      the protected computer;
        (II) the person acting under color of law is lawfully engaged
      in an investigation;
        (III) the person acting under color of law has reasonable
      grounds to believe that the contents of the computer trespasser's
      communications will be relevant to the investigation; and
        (IV) such interception does not acquire communications other
      than those transmitted to or from the computer trespasser.
      (3)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, a
    person or entity providing an electronic communication service to
    the public shall not intentionally divulge the contents of any
    communication (other than one to such person or entity, or an agent
    thereof) while in transmission on that service to any person or
    entity other than an addressee or intended recipient of such
    communication or an agent of such addressee or intended recipient.
      (b) A person or entity providing electronic communication service
    to the public may divulge the contents of any such communication -
        (i) as otherwise authorized in section 2511(2)(a) or 2517 of
      this title;
        (ii) with the lawful consent of the originator or any addressee
      or intended recipient of such communication;
        (iii) to a person employed or authorized, or whose facilities
      are used, to forward such communication to its destination; or
        (iv) which were inadvertently obtained by the service provider
      and which appear to pertain to the commission of a crime, if such
      divulgence is made to a law enforcement agency.
      (4)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection or
    in subsection (5), whoever violates subsection (1) of this section
    shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five
    years, or both.
      (b) Conduct otherwise an offense under this subsection that
    consists of or relates to the interception of a satellite
    transmission that is not encrypted or scrambled and that is
    transmitted -
        (i) to a broadcasting station for purposes of retransmission to
      the general public; or
        (ii) as an audio subcarrier intended for redistribution to
      facilities open to the public, but not including data
      transmissions or telephone calls,
    is not an offense under this subsection unless the conduct is for
    the purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private
    financial gain.
      (5)(a)(i) If the communication is -
        (A) a private satellite video communication that is not
      scrambled or encrypted and the conduct in violation of this
      chapter is the private viewing of that communication and is not
      for a tortious or illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or
      indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain; or
        (B) a radio communication that is transmitted on frequencies
      allocated under subpart D of part 74 of the rules of the Federal
      Communications Commission that is not scrambled or encrypted and
      the conduct in violation of this chapter is not for a tortious or
      illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial
      advantage or private commercial gain,
    then the person who engages in such conduct shall be subject to
    suit by the Federal Government in a court of competent
    jurisdiction.
      (ii) In an action under this subsection -
        (A) if the violation of this chapter is a first offense for the
      person under paragraph (a) of subsection (4) and such person has
      not been found liable in a civil action under section 2520 of
      this title, the Federal Government shall be entitled to
      appropriate injunctive relief; and
        (B) if the violation of this chapter is a second or subsequent
      offense under paragraph (a) of subsection (4) or such person has
      been found liable in any prior civil action under section 2520,
      the person shall be subject to a mandatory $500 civil fine.
      (b) The court may use any means within its authority to enforce
    an injunction issued under paragraph (ii)(A), and shall impose a
    civil fine of not less than $500 for each violation of such an
    injunction.

SOURCE

    (Added Pub. L. 90-351, title III, Sec. 802, June 19, 1968, 82 Stat.
    213; amended Pub. L. 91-358, title II, Sec. 211(a), July 29, 1970,
    84 Stat. 654; Pub. L. 95-511, title II, Sec. 201(a)-(c), Oct. 25,
    1978, 92 Stat. 1796, 1797; Pub. L. 98-549, Sec. 6(b)(2), Oct. 30,
    1984, 98 Stat. 2804; Pub. L. 99-508, title I, Secs. 101(b), (c)(1),
    (5), (6), (d), (f)[(1)], 102, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1849, 1851-
    1853; Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXII, Sec. 320901, title XXXIII,
    Sec. 330016(1)(G), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2123, 2147; Pub. L.
    103-414, title II, Secs. 202(b), 204, 205, Oct. 25, 1994, 108 Stat.
    4290, 4291; Pub. L. 104-294, title VI, Sec. 604(b)(42), Oct. 11,
    1996, 110 Stat. 3509; Pub. L. 107-56, title II, Secs. 204, 217(2),
    Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 281, 291; Pub. L. 107-296, title II, Sec.
    225(h)(2), (j)(1), Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2158; Pub. L. 110-261,
    title I, Secs. 101(c)(1), 102(c)(1), title IV, Sec. 403(b)(2)(C),
    July 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 2459, 2474.)
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