While it is now illegal to intentionally intercept cordless telephone conversations, cordless telephone users have not always been protected. Prior to October 1994 the Federal Wiretap Act did not protect cordless telephone users from private persons or law enforcement agencies who intentionally intercepted their conversations. In fact, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) amended Title III of the of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to expressly exclude cordless telephone transmissions from the definition of "wire" and "electronic" communications. With the advent of new cordless technology and the ubiquitousness of the cordless telephone, Congress amended the ECPA, by removing the cordless telephone exclusion. Nevertheless, the possibility remains that courts will not protect every cordless telephone communication, because the statute remains ambiguous. Part I of this note reviews the history of the Federal Wiretap Act. Part II analyzes case law interpreting the Federal Wiretap Act and various state wiretap acts. Part III attempts to determine what a cordless communication is - wire, oral or electronic, and whether the new amendment will protect all cordless telephone users. Lastly, Part V determines whether there is a better way of legislating in an area that is forever changing and developing.
Note, The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and Protection of Cordless Telephone Communications: The Use of Technology as a Guide to Privacy, 44 Clev. St. L. Rev. 99 (1996)