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A History of Listening In As the technology of voice communications has advanced, government surveillance has raised many legal issues. TURN PAGE TO BEGIN>


[milestones] 1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

1875

A History of Listening In As the technology of voice communications has advanced, government surveillance has raised many legal issues.

58  S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N

Technology

1900 1890s: Lawenforcement agencies begin tapping wires on early telephone networks.

New York Ti

m es , M ay 20

, 1916

1967: In the case of Katz v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that intercepting communications requires a warrant.

LAW and POlicy

September 2008


1965: Bell Labs develops the first computerized telephone switch.

1965: The first commercial communications satellite is launched.

1950

1970s: Optical fiber becomes a medium for telecommunications. 1980s: Commercial cell phone networks appear.

1975

1968: Congress passes a law providing for wiretap warrants in criminal investigations.

w w w. S c i A m . c o m

1978: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) creates a secret federal court for issuing wiretap warrants in national security cases.

1990s: The Internet booms, cutting the cost of communications.

2000s: Mass-market voice-over-Internetprotocol (VoIP) services are introduced.

2000

1994: Congress approves the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which requires telephone companies to be able to install more effective wiretaps.

2004: The FBI proposes extending the CALEA requirements to voice-overInternet-protocol services.

2007: Congress amends FISA to allow the government to monitor more communications without a warrant.

2008: President George W. Bush signs a national security directive that expands the surveillance of Internet traffic to and from the U.S. government.

S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N 

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09/2008--A History of Listening In  

As the technology of voice communications has advanced, government surveillance has raised many legal issues.

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