Interception of Radio Communications47 U.S.C.
Section 605(a) of Title 47 prohibits persons who transmit or
wire or radio communications from divulging such communications except to
authorized persons. According to the legislative history, the provision "is
designed to regulate the conduct of communications personnel." S.Rep. No.
90th Cong., 2d Sess. 108 (1968).|
The nature of radio communications is such that there is the
for a multitude of petty 47 U.S.C. § 605 violations which do not
initiation of federal prosecutions. Consequently, the proper use of federal
enforcement resources usually requires that investigation and prosecution of
U.S.C. § 605 violations be reserved for those cases in which there is
continuing, repeated, and flagrant violation of the law despite the
of lesser measures. It should be noted that the Cable Communications Policy
of 1984 carved out an exception for the interception of satellite cable
programming by an individual for private viewing. Prior to the act, such an
interception and use was, arguably, a violation of the law.
The word "person" in 47 U.S.C. § 605 does not include a law
enforcement officer acting in the usual course of his or her duties.
United States v. Hall, 488 F.2d 193 (9th Cir. 1973); S.Rep. No.
90th Cong., 2d Sess. 108 (1968).
A person who "willfully" violates the criminal prohibitions
in this section is subject to a fine of not more than $2,000 and
not more than six months. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(1). If a person
violates this provision for purposes of direct or indirect commercial
or private financial gain, the penalty is a fine of not more than $50,000
imprisonment for not more than two years, and a $100,000 fine and
for not more than five years for any subsequent conviction. Id.
The statute also prohibits the importation, manufacture, sale, or
distribution of equipment with the intent to use it in any activity
by § 605(a), and provides the same criminal penalties of not more than
$500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years for each violation.
Id. § 605(e)(4).
[cited in USAM 9-60.200]