Comprehensive Overview (state-by-state) of the Legal Impact of wiretapping:
Iowa has two laws that address illegal interception of communication. One is the interception of communications statute, Iowa Code Ann. 808B, based on the same provisions as the federal law. The other one is the electronic and mechanical eavesdropping statute, Iowa Code Ann 727.8. Both laws require the consent of at least one party to any communication, for the interception of the respective communication. Invasion of privacy in Iowa law is specifically placed in a sexual context.
Impact of law
In Iowa, it is legal for a person to record a communication if that person is a party to that communication or has received prior consent from one party to that communication. In other words, anyone can record his or her private conversations without the consent or without notifying the other parties.
In regard to personal surveillance, the law only addresses cases of voyeurism, when all of the following conditions apply: the person subject to surveillance does not have knowledge about and does not consent to being viewed or recorded when he or she is in a state of full or partial nudity in a place where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
References to Physical TSCM
Iowa law, as well as the federal law, prohibits the illegal “interception of any wire, electronic, or oral communication”. Further definitions of terms lead to a very broad perspective.
First, the law defines the term “intercept” as the acquisition of the contents of communication “through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device”.
The phrase “electronic, mechanical, or other device” is then defined as “any device or apparatus which can be used to intercept” a wire, electronic, or oral communication.
We can thus assert that the law addresses illegal interception through the use of any device which can be used to intercept any wire, electronic, or oral communication. This is an all-inclusive perspective, that can literally address any means of wiretapping and available devices.
However, paragraph (b) of the same subsection specifically addresses interception through the use of devices but only with regard to oral communication, and only in the case of a device that further transmits information. It is our opinion that the broader perspective should prevail.
References to Cyber TSCM
Electronic communication is defined as any transfer of signals, signs, 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. The content of such transfers can be subject to interception through the use of cyber tools. We assert that cyber methods of illegal interception are thus addressed by the law.
Violation of the interception of communications statute is a Class D felony, which carries penalties of up to five years imprisonment and a $7,500 fine.
Violations of the eavesdropping and voyeurism statutes are serious misdemeanors and carry penalties of up to one year in jail and a $1,875 fine
A person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is unlawfully intercepted, disclosed, or used shall have a civil cause of action against against the perpetrator and be entitled to recover actual damages (a minimum amount of $1,000), punitive damages and attorney’s fee and other litigation costs.
Iowa Code Ann. 727.8 ELECTRONIC AND MECHANICAL EAVESDROPPING.
Any person, having no right or authority to do so, who taps into or connects a listening or recording device to any telephone or other communication wire, or who by any electronic or mechanical means listens to, records, or otherwise intercepts a conversation or communication of any kind, commits a serious misdemeanor; provided, that the sender or recipient of a message or one who is openly present and participating in or listening to a communication shall not be prohibited hereby from recording such message or communication; and further provided, that nothing herein shall restrict the use of any radio or television receiver to receive any communication transmitted by radio or wireless signal.
Iowa Code Ann. 808B.2 UNLAWFUL ACTS — PENALTY.
- Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, a person who does any of the following commits a class “D” felony:
- Willfully intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, a wire, oral, or electronic communication.
- Willfully uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use an electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when either of the following applies:
(1) The device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication.
(2) The device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of radio communications.without being part to the communication or without consent from one of the parties
- Willfully discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of a 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.
- Willfully uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of a 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.
- c. It is not unlawful under this chapter for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication if the person is a party to the communication or if one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception […]
Violation of this subsection is a class “D” felony.
Iowa Code Ann. 808B.1 DEFINITIONS.
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
- “Contents“, when used with respect to a wire, oral, or electronic communication, includes any information concerning the identity of the parties to the communication or the existence, substance, purpose, or meaning of that communication.
- “Electronic communication” means any transfer of signals, signs, 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 that affects intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce, but excludes the following:
- Wire or oral communication.
- Communication made through a tone-only paging device.
- Communication from a tracking device.
- “Electronic, mechanical, or other device” means a device or apparatus which can be used to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication […]
- “Intercept” or “interception” means the aural acquisition of the contents of a wire, oral, or electronic communication through the use of an electronic, mechanical, or other device.
- “Oral communication” means an oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that the communication is not subject to interception, under circumstances justifying that expectation. An “oral communication” does not include an electronic communication.
- “Wire communication” means any aural transfer made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception […]
Iowa Code Ann. 808B.7 CONTENTS OF INTERCEPTED WIRE, ORAL, OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION AS EVIDENCE.
The contents or any part of the contents of an intercepted wire, oral, or electronic communication and any evidence derived from the wire, oral, or electronic communication shall not be received in evidence in a trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before a court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United States, a state, or political subdivision of a state if the disclosure of that information would be in violation of this chapter.
Iowa Code Ann. 808B.8 CIVIL DAMAGES AUTHORIZED — CIVIL AND CRIMINAL IMMUNITY — INJUNCTIVE RELIEF.
- A person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or used in violation of this chapter shall:
- Have a civil cause of action against any person who intercepts, discloses, or uses or procures any other person to intercept, disclose, or use such communications.
- Be entitled to recover from any such person all of the following:
(1) Actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages computed at the rate of one hundred dollars a day for each day of violation, or one thousand dollars, whichever is higher.
(2) Punitive damages upon a finding of a willful, malicious, or reckless violation of this chapter.
(3) A reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.
Iowa Code Ann. 709.21 INVASION OF PRIVACY — NUDITY.
- A person who knowingly views, photographs, or films another person, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person, commits invasion of privacy if all of the following apply:
- The other person does not have knowledge about and does not consent or is unable to consent to being viewed, photographed, or filmed.
- The other person is in a state of full or partial nudity.
- The other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy while in a state of full or partial nudity.
- A person who violates this section commits a serious misdemeanor.