Communications: Plugging the Big Ear

Hardly anyone can be wholly certain that his confidential conversations are not being overheard or recorded. A microphone can be hidden in a ballpoint pen, a tape recorder made to look like a pack of cigarettes, a radio transmitter planted in a sugar bowl. Despite this rapid growth of electronic eavesdropping, federal and state laws protecting individual privacy are almost nonexistent.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission moved part way to plug the bug. An FCC order banning private use of radio devices to intercept private conversations—with a maximum fine of $500 a day for convicted snoopers—applies to scores of bugging...

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