Comprehensive Overview (state-by-state) of the Legal Impact of wiretapping:

Alaska

Current status

Alaska addresses interception and eavesdropping separately. Interception refers to the acquisition of any kind of private communication, either oral, wire or electronic, while eavesdropping only refers to oral communications, conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means.

The law criminalizes intercepting or eavesdropping without the consent of at least one party to the communication, as well as the disclosure of private information obtained without consent.

Impact of law

Alaska interception of communications and eavesdropping statutes prohibit only third-party interception of communications. The provisions do not apply to a participant in a conversation, as his sole consent makes a recording legal, even without informing the other parties prior to the action. The law protects personal communication under a “reasonable expectation that the communication is not subject to interception”, without mentioning specific situations, which means that the expectation of privacy is to be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is however, reasonable to believe that most public places do not make the subject of the law.

References to Physical TSCM

Eavesdropping devices in Alaska law are described as “any device capable of being used to hear or record oral conversation whether the conversation is conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means”, and excludes medical hearing-improvement devices and telephone instruments used for the act of communication.

The legal definition for “Interception” references the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device, including the acquisition of the contents by simultaneous transmission or by recording. We can conclude that the law describes most common TSCM devices, such as recorders, transmitters, microphones, wiretaps, etc.

References to Cyber TSCM

When the law references a “conversation conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means” we can assert that electronic communication such as email or chat are included in the definition. And indeed, “electronic communication” is defined as any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system, including a cellular or cordless telephone communication.” We can then assume that, as the law covers electronic communication, it also regularizes cyber surveillance.

Criminal implications

Eavesdropping as defined by law is considered a class A misdemeanor in Alaska and carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and fine up to $10,000[1].

Civil implications

Code Excerpts

Alaska Statutes – Section 42.20.300[2]: Unauthorized publication or use of communications.

(b) Except as provided in AS 12.37, a person not authorized by a party to the communication may not intentionally intercept a private communication or divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the intercepted communication to any person.

(c) A person who is not entitled to a communication but who has received the communication may not use it or any information contained in it for personal benefit or another’s benefit.

Alaska Statutes – Section 42.20.310[3]: Eavesdropping.

(a) A person may not

(1) use an eavesdropping device to hear or record all or any part of an oral conversation without the consent of a party to the conversation;

(2) use or divulge any information which the person knows or reasonably should know was obtained through the illegal use of an eavesdropping device […];

(3) publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of any conversation the person has heard through the illegal use of an eavesdropping device;

(4) divulge, or publish […] any conversation […] obtained through the illegal use of an eavesdropping device;

(b) In this section “eavesdropping device” means any device capable of being used to hear or record oral conversation whether the conversation is conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means

Alaska Statutes – Section 42.20.330.[4]: Penalty.

A person who violates any of the provisions of 42.20.310 is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Alaska Statutes – Section 42.20.390.[5]: Definitions.

(3) “eavesdropping device” means a device or apparatus, including an induction coil, that can be used to intercept an oral, wire, or electronic communication (other than hearing-improvement devices, a telephone or telegraph instrument, equipment, or facility);

(4) “electronic communication” means any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system, including a cellular or cordless telephone communication […];

(7) “intercept” means the aural or other acquisition of the contents of an oral, wire, or electronic communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device, including the acquisition of the contents by simultaneous transmission or by recording;

(11) “private communication” means an oral, wire, or electronic communication uttered or transmitted by a person who has a reasonable expectation that the communication is not subject to interception;

 

[1] Source: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/12/12.55./12.55.035.

[2] Source: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/42/42.20./05./42.20.300.

[3] Source: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/42/42.20./05./42.20.310

[4] Source: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/42/42.20./05./42.20.330.

[5] Source: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/42/42.20./05./42.20.390.