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They have an alert police department; they have an alert group of lawyers and they had this problem. If we narrow their wiretapping authority down to just these fields, it wouldn't help New York at all.
Mr. WESTIN. I have never been persuaded in talking to law enforcement officials that the solution of the kinds of crimes that you have been describing rests on the use of wiretapping. Most of the time when you press the investigators very hard as to whether other techniques are available, I find-and I use the word “invariably”-they give us an argument that it is more of convenience than necessity.
They will say, “Look, it will take me four men to shadow, plus 2 weeks of investigative work and I have a limited budget and I can't assign this many people."
Now my own reaction to that is to say that if it would cost X number of dollars more each year to have a police department that did not wiretap and district attorneys' offices that did not wiretap except in the more serious offenses, I would be glad to go out and fight for higher salaries and more money for the departments. If you uphold the law in that way, which is simply a matter of hiring more shadowers and having 3 more weeks at the police acadenty in techniques of investigation, there would be little sacrifice.
Senator CARROLL. Well, I thank you very much. These are difficult questions and problems. My mind is open on this and I will no doubt hear more from the Attorney General. He will have his own special program and this will come from the FBI. They will raise the question of espionage and sabotage. Of course, this creates a fear in the minds of the people. The people will be tempted to say let them have it and to say let them do it.
When we go to the State level, we find the organized crime movements, and syndicates. We may be tempted to say let them do it. Somehow, as you have indicated, we have to put a limitation on this.
Thank you very much, Professor, for coming here and we will stand in recess now until 2:15.
(Whereupon, at 1 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 2:15 p.m. of the same day.)
Senator CARROLL (presiding). The subcommittee will come to order. Our first witness this afternoon is Mr. W. Coles Hudgins. Will you come forward, please. Mr. Hudgins, while a native of Virginia, I am happy to observe to the committee, is now a resident of Denver, Colo., and vice president of the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Co., and for the past 3 years has been vice president of operations of this company and a member of its board of directors. As I have stated, originally a native a Virginia. He started in the telephone business in 1929 as a lineman, right after finishing college. He has held many positions in the last 32 years with this company, including assignment as assistant vice president, labor relations, with the American Co., New York, and as a Coloradan, I am glad to have him here to give us the benefit of his experience and advice and counsel. We hope that you come up with an answer to all of the questions we have put this morning.
You may proceed, Mr. Hudgins.
for 5 years.
STATEMENT OF W. COLES HUDGINS, VICE PRESIDENT, MOUNTAIN
STATES TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH CO., DENVER, COLO. Mr. HUDGINS. My name is W. Coles Hudgins. I am the vice president (operations) of the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Co. with headquarters in Denver. My company serves about 272 million telephones in the States of Colorado, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, the greater part of Idaho, and El Paso County, Tex. As you may know, the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Co. serves the largest geographical area of any Bell System company.
Prior to assuming my present position in 1958, I was personnel vice president of the Mountain States Co., a position which I held
In my statement today, I shall discuss three general subjects. They are.:
First, the Bell System policy as to wiretapping.
Second, our comments on three bills before this committee (and at the end of the prepared statement I will make a short statement on the fourth bill, which was, I think, recently presented by Senator HRUSKA).
Third, a brief description of the rules and practices used by the Mountain States Co. in protecting the privacy of communications.
The latest public statement of the Bell System policy on wiretapping was made last year by Mr. Wellington Powell, vice president of the New York Telephone Co., in a written statement which was received in evidence by this committee. Mr. Powell said (p. 1695 of the hearings) :
Our company and other companies in the Bell System believe that privacy of communications should be carefully protected. We believe that people have an inherent right to feel that they can use the telephone freely and informally, just as they talk face to face, and that any undermining of this personal right may seriously impair the usefulness and value of telephone communications, a fact which could adversely affect our business. We do not like any invasion of the privacy of communications by wiretapping and we welcome Federal and State laws which strengthen this privacy and reduce the opportunities and temptations to invade the privacy of telephone users.
My company, like the other companies in the Bell System, concurs in this policy. We, too, would welcome legislation which would strengthen the protection of the privacy of telephone service.
However, we also realize that this individual right, like many others, is subject to the overriding needs of society as a whole. It may be that Congress will conclude that problems of national security, and the prevention and detection of serious crimes, warrant some invasion of this right of privacy. But we feel strongly that wiretapping in general should be prohibited, and that any exceptions should be very carefully considered, and should be accompanied by every reasonable safeguard against abuse which can be devised.
You have requested us to comment specifically on three bills which are before you: S. 1495, S. 1221, and S. 1086. Having in mind the general policy of the Bell System which I have just stated, and assuming that some type of permissive legislation may be recommended by this committee, I do wish to make some observations on those three bills. However, I wish to confine my remarks in all cases to the area which is generally known as wiretapping or interception
and involves the use of telephone service, rather than to the broader field of eavesdropping.
S. 1495 appears to relate only to interception of telephone and telegraph communications and I would like to discuss it first.
We believe that S. 1495 has a number of commendable features. First, it starts with the basic provision that all wiretapping, except that which is specifically permitted by the bill, is prohibited. As we understand the Federal law at the present time, wiretapping as such, which is usually defined as interception, is not prohibited. In addition to interception, divulgence or use of information gained by interception is required to constitute a crime. We believe that it is desirable in the interests of preserving privacy of telephone communication for the law to contain a basic prohibition against interception.
A general prohibition of interception, however, creates a problem for telephone common carriers in that some interception is necessary in the rendition of service. For example, on a person-to-person call, the operator must be in on the call enough to establish and maintain the connection. Also, repairmen and personnel engaged in necessary checking on the performance of plant and equipment must at times cut in on circuits which may be in use. S. 1495 properly recognizes this problem in section 3(b) (4) which provides that it shall not be unlawful for an officer, agent, or employee of a common carrier to intercept a communication in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is necessary in the rendition of service. This exemption is essential and we hope that it will not be dropped or otherwise lost sight of in any legislation dealing with interception which this committee may recommend.
It seems to us, too, that the basic framework of S. 1495 is good; that is, it sets up detailed limitations and procedures designed to assure reasonable control over the interceptions by law enforcement agencies which are authorized. A requirement of reports is included which would enable Congress to check on the amount of tapping and possible abuses. Also it would, in general, require the same limitations and procedures in State legislation which might be enacted pursuant to the provisions in the bill which permit it. We think it most important that the safeguards surrounding State wiretapping for law enforcement be equally as strong as those surrounding any Federal wiretapping which may be authorized for that purpose. It seems reasonable to assume that the amount of wiretapping under such State statutes would be greater than that which would take place under a Federal statute, and could constitute an even more serious threat to the privacy of telephone communications.
Also, this bill makes it clear in section 2(5) that listening in on extension telephones or on party lines is not the kind of interception which to be made a crime. We agree that while they are generally undesirable it is not appropriate to classify interceptions of this kind along with the wiretapping to which S. 1495 would apply.
Senator CARROLL. At the top of page 4 of your statement, there is something there that is not quite clear to me. I refer tothat listening in on extension telephones or on party lines is not the kind of interception which is to be made a crime. We agree that while they are generally undesirable it is not appropriate to classify interceptions of this kind along with the wiretapping to which S. 1495 would apply.
In other words, if there is a listening in on the connecting telephone, a kibitzing by somebody in on a party line, it is not covered under S. 1495?
Mr. HUDGINS. That is our understanding, sir.
Mr. HUDGINS. Now, I wish to refer briefly to those aspects of S. 1495 about which we have some reservations. As I have stated, we believe that the extent to which wiretapping is authorized should be carefully considered and is a matter of important public policy. And we realize that the national security and law enforcement may well require some relaxing of wiretapping restrictions.
But we ask the committee to consider seriously whether wiretapping should be permitted in such very broad areas as "gambling and "racketeering.”
Senator CARROLL. We had some testimony yesterday by Mr. Silver who for many years has operated under a New York statute permitting wiretapping.
Mr. Silver testified that to him one of the most important points for the prevention of crime was to be able to intercept messages on gambling, because in his opinion that was the basis for the real activity of the syndicates of organized crime.
Your testimony is that there is a serious question raised as to that. Is it the concern of the telephone company because of the invasion of privacy and not because of the scope of the activity! There cannot be very broad gambling activity, without the use of telephones, can there?
Mr. HUGHES. I would guess that to be true, yes, sir. Senator CARROLL. And we know from the testimony again of Mr. Silver, on this boiler place operation plate that they played here the other day, they were using the telephone, that is, the con artists were, to use the jargon of the trade, using the sucker list.
If the police are not allowed to tap in for gambling and racketeering and to use this interception to determine other criminal activities; if we just held this to kidnapping and espionage and what we call the major crimes that affect national security you would not be able to achieve the objective that these people want in the wiretapping statute.
I am not saying that you should, but I am posing some questions. Why do you feel you should only limit this to kidnapping, perhaps espionage? How about the charge of murder? How do you draw a line between a conspiracy to commit murder and murder? How would you draw a line between armed robbery where sis men are going into a certain place, and other major criminal activities? I know that you cannot come up with all of these answers, but I am asking whether this should be permitted in connection with gambling?
Mr. Hudgins. I think, Senator, that Mr. Silver who, I believe, has been living under the situation in New York, with which I am not too familiar although I have read something of the New York statutes, has been with it for 20 years and this is his business and I believe your question went to whether we objected to it because of invading the privacy of communications or the scope of such activity. I guess my answer would be both, sir. We feel the more it gets into the States and the more people are allowed to legally wiretap it becomes difficult to control.
Again, I am speaking from a telephone man's point of view. I must admit that I could understand Mr. Silver's reasons for wanting what he has and, probably, some clarification of the law.
I think this whole matter is a matter of just how far we go between the basic individual rights and the interests of society. I guess that I just do not know the
answers as to what crimes should be included or how far down the scale we should go.
Senator CARROLL. I know that you are not trying to deal with the whole question of the public interests vis-a-vis the interests of the private parties.
Mr. HUDGINS. Yes.
Senator CARROLL. I am not thinking in terms of interfering with the existence of the telephone business. That is not the purpose of this.
Mr. HUDGINS. I do not think it would interfere with the telephone business too much, sir. Of course, if every law enforcement agent in the United States could legally wiretap it might, eventually, but that is not our purpose right now.
Senator CARROLL. That is what I wanted to bring out. Mr. HUDGINS. Yes, sir. Senator CARROLL. As you know, many years ago, the question arose whether there should be a direct wire running from a racetrack into an area where gambling was prohibited, so that a person could go into the Western Union office and lay down a bet in Denver to be effective, we will say, in the State of Florida.
And there has been a great deal of talk on this point. I am sure that you see as to this question of racketeering and gambling, that there is no doubt that the Internal Revenue Service could get some of the racketeers if they could reach them. This would be a splendid way of breaking up some of these great gambling rings, and it is my own personal feeling that the gambling racketeers are of far greater moment to the public than kidnaping, for example. There are very few cases of kidnaping.
This may not be true in the field of espionage.
I cannot quite see how we can eliminate gambling and racketeering completely. It would seem to me that there are very few people who really are in this field in a big way.
Mr. HUDGINS. You mean in gambling?
Senator CARROLL. And racketeering in a big way. I cannot see that this would necessarily mean a major invasion of the public's privacy of which you have spoken.
Mr. HUDGINS. I guess that we feel that it would be, Senator. I will agree with you, sir, that there are very few people in it in a large capacity. In other words, as large syndicate operators.
I am not a lawyer at all, but to me it could cover a host of people. Unless we had the proper restrictions and controls this thing could very well get out of hand. That is our only interest—that we control it as much as it possibly can be controlled, and still do the things that are necessary to safeguard the national and State interests.
Senator CARROLL. Take, for example, the gangsters in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Denver when the men from the