The Federal Wiretapping Act provides that it is unlawful to intercept oral or electronic communications. Both criminal and civil penalties are provided for by this Act. There are two exceptions: 1) An employer can monitor his/her/its telephones in the ordinary course of business through the use of extension telephone; and 2) An employer can monitor employee communications with the employee’s consent. Consent may be established by prior written notice to employees of the employer’s monitoring policy. Consent signed by the employee is preferable. Personal calls can be monitored only to the extent necessary to determine whether the call is a personal or business call. As soon as it is determined that the call is a personal call, the employer must quit listening. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) amended the federal wiretap statute to make it apply to e-mail communications. However, the same two exceptions exist (i.e., ordinary course of business and consent).
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