Scope of 18 U.S.C § 2512 Prohibitions
Section 2512 of Title 18 provides penalties for conduct concerning
devices which are primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious
interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. It prohibits
such devices through the mail or in interstate or foreign commerce.
§ 2512(1)(b). It also prohibits the publication of an advertisement
concerning any device if the advertisement promotes the use of the device
purpose of surreptitious interceptions, or (2) concerning devices which are
primarily useful for the surreptitious interception of communications. A
"device" under § 2512 is intended to include any combination of parts
designed or intended for use in converting those parts into such a device
from which such a device may be readily assembled. See S.Rep. No.
99th Cong., 2d Sess. 13 (1986).|
The legislative history of Section 2512 indicates that the
prohibition applies to such things as the martini olive transmitter, the
mike, the infinity transmitter, and the microphone disguised as a
picture frame, cuff link, tie clip, fountain pen, stapler, or cigarette
See S.Rep. No. 1097, 90th Cong., 2d Sess. 95 (1968). However, the
legislative history specifically exempts parabolic and other directional
microphones "ordinarily used by broadcasters at sports events" from the
the statute. Id.
It is worthy of note that 18 U.S.C. § 2512(1)(c)(ii) prohibits
advertisement of any device for "surreptitious interception." Such
is prohibited although the device itself may not be primarily useful for
surreptitious interceptions and although the interceptions promoted are
surreptitious, one-party consensual interceptions permissible under 18
§ 2511(2)(d). See United States v. Bast, 495 F.2d 138
Section 2512 violations are punishable by imprisonment of not more
five years and a fine under Title 18.
Section 2512(2) excepts from the prohibitions of the section
of wire or electronic communication services acting in the normal course of
business and law enforcement officers acting in the normal course of their
activities, or persons under contract with such law enforcement agencies.
[cited in USAM 9-60.200]