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syndicates move in. Denver has an intelligence unit in its police department, and their job is to keep abreast of the gangsters and to find out what they are doing:
It would seem to me that if we are going to have any validity at all to this statute, the police should be able to move in on the big gamblers and the racketeers and that they ought to be permitted to do so.
What crimes do you think we ought to cover? I may be a little premature, you may cover that later in your paper. What crimes do you think we can give permission for tapping—what type of criminal activity?
Mr. HUDGINS. I think I have just stated that, Senator, the crime that we think should be, if we are going to relax the national policy at all, sir. All I can say is that I do not think I can tell you the crimes that should be included. We would only hope that they would be only those absolutely necessary to safeguard the people of this country and at the same time do what we can to maintain the privacy of telephone communications.
Senator CARROLL. Should it cover the crime of kidnaping?
Mr. HUDGINS. Yes, sir. This is just what we think. I do not think I am able to classify the crimes. I have read some of the testimony on this subject which goes so far as to say that it should be allowed on any crime which carries a maximum fine up to so much money. I do not think I am qualified, really, to say which crimes should be included.
We are interested only in keeping them at a basic minimum.
Senator CARROLL. You want to keep it to a basic minimum because .you feel it would be a serious invasion of privacy—that is your interest?
Mr. HUDGINS. I think so, sir. That is the business I am in, is to provide good telephone service. We think that it should be mainlained that way, insofar as possible.
Senator CARROLL. You heard the discussion this morning. Do you think that there is any difference at all between a telegraph, a wire telegram, and a telephone message?
Mr. HUDGINS. I heard the discussion this morning but I do not think that there is a whole lot of difference, no, sir. I heard the discussion where it is illegal maybe to tap a telegraph line, but not illegal to divulge the contents of any telegram that may have been sent.
I think the telephone conversation is the principal matter between two people.
Senator CARROLL. Do you think that a telegram is as personal as a telephone conversation?
Mr. HUDGINS. Well, by the very nature of the way it is transmitted it cannot be, because it passes through too many hands. The typing thereof and the delivery and so forth.
Senator CARROLL. You may proceed. Thank you.
Feeling as we do that the protection of the privacy of communications is of vital importance, we would prefer that authorized wiretapping be limited to the national security, including the security of the States, and the serious crime of kidnaping which commonly involves the use of communication services. The Congress will of course decide how much, if any further, it should go, and we can only urge that the importance of preserving and protecting the privacy of communications must not be minimized or lost sight of in the decision.
The seriousness of the threat to privacy from wiretapping for law enforcement depends to a very large extent on the amount of such wiretapping that takes place. When a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of everyone who uses it, the innocent as well as the suspect and the guilty, is invaded. Extension of wiretapping to racketeering, which usually includes gambling, would greatly increase the amount of tapping and correspondingly increase the invasion of the privacy of wholly innocent people. If this invasion of privacy became widespread and a matter of common knowledge, it could seriously inhibit the general public in their use of communication services which have become a necessity in their daily lives. We recognize, of course, that racketeering and organized crime are matters of great concern to the Government and all good citizens, but seriously question whether on balance wiretapping should be authorized in those areas.
Another question we would like to raise is whether every Federal, State, and local officer should be permitted to intercept (S. 1495, sec. 4 (a), (b), and (c)). Previous proposed Federal legislation has generally limited wiretapping to the FBI and such other agencies as the intelligence branches of the Armed Forces._ We feel strongly that care should be exercised to assure on both the Federal and State sides that those authorized to wiretap are thoroughly responsible and can demonstrate a real need for this dangerous weapon.
Likewise, with reference to sections 2(10)(B) and 4(c) of S. 1495, might not the term “judge of competent jurisdiction” be specifically defined to make it clear that minor courts, such as police magistrates or justices of the peace, could not authorize wiretapping? As to both of these points, the consideration is whether law enforcement needs require the relaxation of the law and the invasion of privacy to the extent which S. 1495 in its present form permits.
Incidentally, I am not quite sure whether S. 1495 pertains only to interstate communications or to both interstate and intrastate messages. Presumably inclusion of both was intended. The committee may want to consider further the definition of "wire communications" (sec. 2(1)).
I would like to turn now to S. 1221 which relates to eavesdropping, including wiretapping, and to the recording of various conversations. This bill apparently pertains to both interstate and intrastate messages.
Confining myself to its wiretapping aspects, S. 1221 goes much further than S. 1495 in relaxing the prohibitions against wiretapping by law enforcement people. On the other hand we fear that the definitions of “person” and “instrument” are so broad as to provide a serious obstacle to the telephone companies in doing things necessary to give service.
Specifically, the term “instrument” might include all sorts of telephone equipment and thus prohibit interception by telephone employees in rendering service. As I have previously pointed out, telephone companies must do a certain amount of interception of calls—particularly while the call is being placed-simply to determine that proper connections have been made and that transmission is
satisfactory. S. 1495 recognizes this problem and exempts activities of telephone people necessary in the rendition of service. A like exemption should be provided in any proposed legislation such as S. 1221.
We are aware that certain of the provisions of S. 1221 are similar to the New York State eavesdropping law. The New York law, however, contains specific exemptions such as those to which I refer.
Apparently, S. 1221 would prohibit eavesdropping or listening in on extension telephones and party lines. As I stated earlier we do not think it is desirable to classify these activities as crimes along with wiretapping.
Our general reaction to S. 1221 is that it goes too far in relaxing the restrictions on wiretapping. It contains few standards and supervisory controls for the wiretapping authorized and goes beyond desirable limits of permissible interception. For these reasons, in addition to our comments on S. 1495, we believe S. 1495 to be the more desirable bill.
The final bill in this group, S. 1086, deals only with wiretapping by the States. It permits interception of wire or radio communications by State and local law enforcement officers, in compliance with any statute of such State, upon a finding by a court of that State that reasonable grounds exist for a belief that interception might disclose evidence of the commission of a crime. The provisions of this bill also appear essentially as section 575(1) of S. 1221, which is the part of S. 1221 which deals primarily with State and local interceptions.
In view of the similarity between S. 1086 and section 575(1) of S. 1221, our comments on the latter bill would apply here. I might simply reiterate that these two bills provide for much more extensive wiretapping and a more serious invasion of the privacy of telephone communications than S. 1495, which is more specific as to procedure and the crimes for which interception may be ordered, and sets up more definite standards which both Federal and State courts and officials must follow.
For the various reasons which I have stated, we believe that if Congress decides that wiretapping should be authorized, a bill along the the lines of S. 1495—with the modifications I have suggested-affords the best framework for doing it.
Before discussing the company rules and practices of the Mountain States Co., I would like to comment briefly on the written testimony of Mr. Wellington Powell of the New York Telephone Co., which was filed with this committee last year. As you know, Mr. Powell's personal appearance before the committee was scheduled but later canceled.
Among other things, Mr. Powell covered very completely the complex plant layout and operations of a telephone company. His exhibits include photographs and diagrams which are helpful in understanding a telephone system and how it works. I have reviewed these exhibits. They are typical of the plant of my company and, I believe, of the Beil System. If the committee wishes, I shall be happy to explain any of those exhibits.
I have also reviewed Mr. Powell's testimony on the New York Telephone Co.'s rules and practices dealing with protecting the privacy of communications. These rules and practices in the Mountain States Co. are similar to those enumerated by Mr. Powell, which I understand are typical of those of the Bell System.
The following is a summary of the things the Mountain States Co. does to safeguard the privacy of telephone communications:
1. Our cable vaults are locked at all times. However, in some of our smaller offices there are no vaults as such. The cables enter the basement of the building and are framed out in the power room. The doors to the power rooms, however, are always locked.
2. The quarters where our cable records, outside plant records, and assignment records are located, are locked after hours and under constant supervision during the working hours. In selection of our employees we follow the same procedures mentioned in Mr. Pow. ell's testimony including proof of citizenship.
3. Our employees are constantly reminded by bulletins, letters, and booklets on the importance of secrecy of communications. Each employee must read the booklets setting forth the laws of the Federal and State Governments and his signature verifies that he has read and understands these laws.
Each employee also has a binder titled "My Company" which deals among other things with the subject of secrecy of communications. Our training material, particularly for our plant employees, constantly emphasizes this same point.
4. We are in the process of writing administrative practices to prevent information getting into the wrong hands. In this connection we have recently made a check in each of our States consisting of calls to repair service requesting pair and terminal numbers for certain telephone numbers. In no case was any such information divulged.
5. The classes of employees who can get this information are limited.
6. Any changes in cable pair assignments on the main frame must be done on a transfer ticket.
7. Our plant installers and repairmen are cautioned to be constantly alert for taps or evidence of taps in their day-to-day work. Some 6,000 of these men are employed in our 8 operating areas.
8. Admission to our buildings after hours is obtained only by photographic pass and our central office equipment and frame rooms are always locked. They can be opened only by dialing a code. Guards are maintained in our principal buildings after hours. Other buildings are locked after hours.
9. Our assignment centers, test bureaus, and plant engineering record rooms are locked after hours, and records are in locked cabinets.
10. Exchange cable terminals in office buildings where vital military services are located are always locked. The services in these buildings &re generally maintained by not more than two or three specially assigned repairmen.
A great deal has been published from time to time about the number f wiretaps being made in this country. I cannot speak with respect to other parts of the country, but based on the Mountain States Co.'s experience, wiretapping is not as serious a problem as it appears to be in some of the larger metropolitan areas. All of our States ex pt Texas have statutes which prohibit it, with no exceptions for law enforcement agencies.
Very recently, in anticipation of appearing before this committee,
inquired around the Mountain States Co. about wiretap complaints or any evidence of actual wiretapping.
Our people in the various States report that they do get a certain number of requests from subscribers asking that their lines be checked for suspected wiretaps. In practically all of these cases no evidence of a tap has been found. I might say that when we get such a request, it is the practice for plant department supervisors to check the outside plant and the terminal equipment at both ends, as well as all cable terminals in which the line appears.
Some of these requests arise out of domestic relations problems. Others are made by persons who tend to be neurotic or who are involved in heated disputes of some sort. The number of such requests has not been large. In fact, we have not had enough to warrant the keeping of statistics on them.
We estimate that in some of our States, Colorado for example, we may get three or four requests a year to check lines for suspected wiretapping. The same appears to be true of El Paso County, Tex. In Wyoming the people I checked with remember only one instance of a complaint in the State—and investigation of that one proved to be negative.
But any illegal wiretapping is too much and we realize that it can become a problem where none existed before. We are interested just as the other Bell System companies in the protection of the privacy of communications, and, as I stated at the outset, will welcome legislation which would preserve and strengthen it.
Senator ERVIN (presiding). We had some testimony before the committee to the effect that after the apparatus was used to wiretap, it was removed, and there was no way to determine that a wiretap had been put into use. What can you say as to that?
Mr. HUDGINS. I say that is absolutely right, Senator. I suppose that there again, with our limited knowledge of the business, in the Mountain States territory we are dealing with a bunch of experts in this field, and the equipment that is used is very easily connected. Once they find a place to connect it, I mean. And once they are suspicious of being observed they can just as easily disconnect it. We, certainly, cannot find it if it is not there.
Senator Ervin. In other words, as Mr. Silver said yesterday, the fact was that wiretapping did not create what you call a corpus delicti.
Mr. HUDGINS. I remember that.
Senator Ervin. Are there any questions from committee counsel ! But before that, I want to thank you for your very clear analysis of the several bills and for your suggestions as to how the bills could be better improved as to be more definite.
Mr. HUDGINS. Thank you, sir. Senator CARROLL. Are you in favor of the present law, section 605, which was interpreted by the Supreme Court
Mr. HUDGINS. I guess I am a little confused by section 605 of the Federal Communications Act. Let me just say this, I do not think we have had any trouble with it up until now.
Senator Ervin. Pardon me for interjecting, but when I read section 605 and tried to interpret it for myself, I soon found myself suffering from an incurable case of bewilderment.
Senator CARROLL. What I had reference to was to the Supreme Court's interpretation of that section.