2022 Pennsylvania Consolidated & Unconsolidated Statutes
Chapter 57 - Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance
Section 5702 - Definitions

Universal Citation: 18 PA Cons Stat § 5702 (2022)
§ 5702. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Aggrieved person." A person who was a party to any intercepted wire, electronic or oral communication or a person against whom the interception was directed.

"Aural transfer." A transfer containing the human voice at any point between and including the point of origin and the point of reception.

"Communication common carrier." Any person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in intrastate, interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio or in intrastate, interstate or foreign radio transmission of energy; however, a person engaged in radio broadcasting shall not, while so engaged, be deemed a common carrier.

"Communication service." Any service which provides to users the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications.

"Communication system." Any wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-optical or photoelectronic facilities for the transmission of communications and any computer facilities or related electronic equipment for the electronic storage of such communications.

"Contents." As used with respect to any wire, electronic or oral communication, is any information concerning the substance, purport, or meaning of that communication.

"Court." The Superior Court. For the purposes of Subchapter C only, the term shall mean the court of common pleas.

"Crime of violence." Any of the following:

(1) Any of the following crimes:

(i) Murder in any degree as defined in section 2502(a), (b) or (c) (relating to murder).

(ii) Voluntary manslaughter as defined in section 2503 (relating to voluntary manslaughter), drug delivery resulting in death as defined in section 2506(a) relating to drug delivery resulting in death), aggravated assault as defined in section 2702(a)(1) or (2) (relating to aggravated assault), 2718 (relating to strangulation), kidnapping as defined in section 2901(a) or (a.1) (relating to kidnapping), rape as defined in section 3121(a), (c) or (d) (relating to rape), involuntary deviate sexual intercourse as defined in section 3123(a), (b) or (c) (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), sexual assault as defined in section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault), aggravated indecent assault as defined in section 3125(a) or (b) (relating to aggravated indecent assault), incest as defined in section 4302(a) or (b) (relating to incest), arson as defined in section 3301(a) (relating to arson and related offenses), burglary as defined in section 3502(a)(1) (relating to burglary), robbery as defined in section 3701(a)(1)(i), (ii) or (iii) (relating to robbery) or robbery of a motor vehicle as defined in section 3702(a) (relating to robbery of motor vehicle).

(iii) Intimidation of witness or victim as defined in section 4952(a) and (b) (relating to intimidation of witnesses or victims).

(iv) Retaliation against witness, victim or party as defined in section 4953(a) and (b) (relating to retaliation against witness, victim or party).

(v) Criminal attempt as defined in section 901(a) (relating to criminal attempt), criminal solicitation as defined in section 902(a) (relating to criminal solicitation) or criminal conspiracy as defined in section 903(a) (relating to criminal conspiracy) to commit any of the offenses specified in this definition.

(2) Any offense equivalent to an offense under paragraph (1) under the laws of this Commonwealth in effect at the time of the commission of that offense or under the laws of another jurisdiction.

"Electronic communication." Any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system, except:

(1) (Deleted by amendment).

(2) Any wire or oral communication.

(3) Any communication made through a tone-only paging device.

(4) Any communication from a tracking device (as defined in this section).

"Electronic communication service." (Deleted by amendment).

"Electronic communication system." (Deleted by amendment).

"Electronic, mechanical or other device." Any device or apparatus, including, but not limited to, an induction coil or a telecommunication identification interception device, that can be used to intercept a wire, electronic or oral communication other than:

(1) Any telephone or telegraph instrument, equipment or facility, or any component thereof, furnished to the subscriber or user by a provider of wire or electronic communication service in the ordinary course of its business, or furnished by such subscriber or user for connection to the facilities of such service and used in the ordinary course of its business, or being used by a communication common carrier in the ordinary course of its business, or by an investigative or law enforcement officer in the ordinary course of his duties.

(2) A hearing aid or similar device being used to correct subnormal hearing to not better than normal.

(3) Equipment or devices used to conduct interceptions under section 5704(15) (relating to exceptions to prohibition of interception and disclosure of communications).

"Electronic storage."

(1) Any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof.

(2) Any storage of such a communication by an electronic communication service for purpose of backup protection of the communication.

"Home." The residence of a nonconsenting party to an interception, provided that access to the residence is not generally permitted to members of the public and the party has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the residence under the circumstances.

"In-progress trace." The determination of the origin of a telephonic communication to a known telephone during an interception.

"Intercept." Aural or other acquisition of the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical or other device. The term shall include the point at which the contents of the communication are monitored by investigative or law enforcement officers. The term shall not include the acquisition of the contents of a communication made through any electronic, mechanical or other device or telephone instrument to an investigative or law enforcement officer, or between a person and an investigative or law enforcement officer, where the investigative or law enforcement officer poses as an actual person who is the intended recipient of the communication, provided that the Attorney General, a deputy attorney general designated in writing by the Attorney General, a district attorney or an assistant district attorney designated in writing by a district attorney of the county wherein the investigative or law enforcement officer is to receive or make the communication has reviewed the facts and is satisfied that the communication involves suspected criminal activities and has given prior approval for the communication.

"Investigative or law enforcement officer." Any officer of the United States, of another state or political subdivision thereof or of the Commonwealth or political subdivision thereof, who is empowered by law to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses enumerated in this chapter or an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, and any attorney authorized by law to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of such offense.

"Judge." When referring to a judge authorized to receive applications for, and to enter, orders authorizing interceptions of wire, electronic or oral communications pursuant to Subchapter B (relating to wire, electronic or oral communication), any judge of the Superior Court.

"Mobile communications tracking information." Information generated by a communication common carrier or a communication service which indicates the location of an electronic device supported by the communication common carrier or communication service.

"One call system." A communication system established by users to provide a single telephone number for contractors or designers or any other person to call notifying users of the caller's intent to engage in demolition or excavation work.

"Oral communication." Any oral communication uttered by a person possessing an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation. The term does not include the following:

(1) An electronic communication.

(2) A communication made in the presence of a law enforcement officer on official duty who is in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as a law enforcement officer and who is using an electronic, mechanical or other device which has been approved under section 5706(b)(4) (relating to exceptions to prohibitions in possession, sale, distribution, manufacture or advertisement of electronic, mechanical or other devices) to intercept the communication in the course of law enforcement duties. As used in this paragraph only, "law enforcement officer" means a member of the Pennsylvania State Police, an individual employed as a police officer who holds a current certificate under 53 Pa.C.S. Ch. 21 Subch. D (relating to municipal police education and training), a sheriff or a deputy sheriff.

"Organized crime."

(1) The unlawful activity of an association trafficking in illegal goods or services, including but not limited to, gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, controlled substances, labor racketeering, or other unlawful activities; or

(2) any continuing criminal conspiracy or other unlawful practice which has as its objective:

(i) large economic gain through fraudulent or coercive practices; or

(ii) improper governmental influence.

"Pen register." A device which is used to capture, record or decode electronic or other impulses which identify the numbers dialed or otherwise transmitted, with respect to wire or electronic communications, on the targeted telephone. The term includes a device which is used to record or decode electronic or other impulses which identify the existence of incoming and outgoing wire or electronic communications on the targeted telephone. The term does not include a device used by a provider or customer of a wire or electronic communication service for billing, or recording as an incident to billing, for communication service provided by the provider, or any device used by a provider, or customer of a wire communication service for cost accounting or other like purposes in the ordinary course of business.

"Person." Any employee, or agent of the United States or any state or political subdivision thereof, and any individual, partnership, association, joint stock company, trust or corporation.

"Readily accessible to the general public." As used with respect to a radio communication, that such communication is not:

(1) scrambled or encrypted;

(2) transmitted using modulation techniques of which the essential parameters have been withheld from the public with the intention of preserving the privacy of the communication;

(3) carried on a subscriber or other signal subsidiary to a radio transmission;

(4) transmitted over a communication system provided by a common carrier, unless the communication is a tone-only paging system communication; or

(5) transmitted on frequencies allocated under 47 CFR Parts 25, 74D, E, F or 94, unless, in the case of a communication transmitted on a frequency allocated under Part 74 which is not exclusively allocated to broadcast auxiliary services, the communication is a two-way voice communication by radio.

"Remote computing service." The provision to the public of computer storage or processing services by means of an electronic communications system.

"Signed, written record." A memorialization of the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication intercepted in accordance with this subchapter, including the name of the investigative or law enforcement officer who transcribed the record, kept in electronic, paper or any form. The signature of the transcribing officer shall not be required to be written, but may be electronic.

"State." Any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and any territory or possession of the United States.

"Suspected criminal activity." A particular offense that has been, is or is about to occur as set forth under section 5709(3)(ii) (relating to application for order), any communications to be intercepted as set forth under section 5709(3)(iii) or any of the criminal activity set forth under section 5709(3)(iv) establishing probable cause for the issuance of an order.

"Telecommunication identification interception device." Any equipment or device capable of intercepting any electronic communication which contains any electronic serial number, mobile identification number, personal identification number or other identification number assigned by a telecommunication service provider for activation or operation of a telecommunication device.

"Tracking device." An electronic or mechanical device which permits only the tracking of the movement of a person or object.

"Trap and trace device." A device which captures the incoming electronic or other impulses which identify the originating number of an instrument or device from which a wire or communication was transmitted. The term includes caller ID, deluxe caller ID or any other features available to ascertain the telephone number, location or subscriber information of a facility contacting the facility whose communications are to be intercepted.

"User." Any person or entity who:

(1) uses an electronic communication service; and

(2) is duly authorized by the provider of the service to engage in the use.

"Wire communication." Any aural transfer made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communication by wire, cable or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception, including the use of such a connection in a switching station, furnished or operated by a telephone, telegraph or radio company for hire as a communication common carrier.

(Dec. 23, 1981, P.L.593, No.175, eff. 60 days; Oct. 21, 1988, P.L.1000, No.115, eff. imd.; Feb. 18, 1998, P.L.102, No.19, eff. imd.; Dec. 9, 2002, P.L.1350, No.162, eff. 60 days; Oct. 25, 2012, P.L.1634, No.202, eff. 60 days; July 7, 2017, P.L.304, No.22, eff. 60 days; June 5, 2020, P.L.246, No.32, eff. 60 days)

2020 Amendment. Act 32 amended the def. of "crime of violence."

2017 Amendment. Act 22 amended the def. of "oral communication."

2012 Amendment. Act 202 amended the defs. of "intercept," "trap and trace device" and "wire communication," added the defs. of "communication service," "communication system," "crime of violence," "mobile communications tracking information" and "signed, written record" and deleted the defs. of "electronic communication service" and "electronic communication system."

2002 Amendment. Act 162 added the def. of "suspected criminal activity."

1998 Amendment. Act 19 amended the defs. of "electronic communication," "electronic, mechanical or other device," "intercept," "investigative or law enforcement officer," "judge," "pen register" and "wire communication" and added the defs. of "home," "state" and "telecommunication identification interception device."

Cross References. Section 5702 is referred to in sections 911, 5706, 5903, 6321 of this title; section 901 of Title 34 (Game); section 67A07 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure); sections 57A12, 57B02 of Title 53 (Municipalities Generally); section 2604.1 of Title 66 (Public Utilities).

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