When Wire Taps Go Horribly Wrong

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Most people have a romanticized idea about wire taps and their purpose. They’re used in police raids, or film noir, or by whistle blowers who are saving the world from their greedy, corrupt, power-hungry bosses.  But the truth about wire taps is far less romantic — and far more invasive — than you might think.  Given the scandals of corruption in Montreal and Quebec, it’s no wonder that politicians and average Canadian residents are starting to feel the stress that comes only from a real (or imagined) invasion of privacy.

Because of this, private investigators throughout the provinces are feeling the pressure to be even more vigilant in their use of cell phone taps, email bugs and landline recordings.  PI’s have been inundated with requests to check into possible bugs on phones and in homes around the country. But when it comes to debugging a business or residence, it’s important to understand the basic premise of wire taps and how they’re used.

The Corruption in Montreal and the Truth about Debugging

The 2011 firing of Pierre Reid for his gross abuse of power in the surveillance of Claude Dauphin has been both lauded and panned, but its effect of bringing to light the corruption of Montreal politicians and police officers may have added more fuel to an already raging fire regarding surveillance. When a PI “bugs” a communication device, s/he:

  • Must have the permission of at least one party involved in the communication
  • Must have a warrant, if the tapping is done without the parties’ consent
  • Documents any information found and provides that information to the proper authorities
  • Usually works alongside the police (when applicable) in larger investigations

There are currently few laws regarding cell phone taps: they’re not illegal, and they’re a powerful tool for investigators and for police.  But if you feel like someone might be recording your phone calls without a warrant — or without someone’s permission — or if it appears that your Smartphone is being hacked for your emails, a PI can easily check for bugs using a variety of tools, including radio frequencies and antennas. You have the right to check your communication devices for wire taps whenever you want.

Cell Phone Taps Are For More Than Just Phone Calls

The most well-known form of surveillance may be recording phone calls, but with the advent of the Smartphone, taps have become much more sophisticated.  Police and PIs can run remote surveillance — perfectly legal, and no warrant or permission needed — on any device which accesses the Internet. However, police cannot search your phone without a warrant. Since today’s cell phone taps often allow access to emails, as Reid’s did, we end up in murky waters about what is and what isn’t technically legal.

Ultimately, it’s better to err on the side of caution.  If you’re suspect that your accounts are being tapped, seeking the help of a private investigator is a smart move.  But it’s best to come prepared with evidence of why you think you’re under surveillance. A good PI will be able to identify any wire taps placed around your home or phones — but he or she may also be able to tell why that surveillance is there in the first place. And if the surveillance is legal and warranted, debugging your phone or computer may not be an option after all.