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Tappings: what are they and how to prevent them

What do you know about tappings?

Probably many things, but just a few are clear, that’s because of the never ending lawmaking which, for many years, has concerned the disciplin related to tappings.
Indeed, it’s about a field where the legislator intervenes much more frequently compared to other branches.
Well, today we try to clarify, first of all, explaining what do we mean with tappings, where and how they are allowed, and how to protect yourself from them.

What are the tappings?

Let’s start saying that we can have different types of tappings, but every one has the purpose to gain probative evidence that can be used to pursue a prosecution.
these are a valid method to get information about the commission of an offence and to get pieces of evidence to prove it.
The tappings can be:

  • audio surveillance, when in the place where the person lives or works;
  • calling surveillance, when the private communications of someone are intercepted;
  • wiretaps, when data from the web are captured.

Legal framework

By being an intrusion in the private life of the person, the law requires some limits to their execution and fundamental conditions, making this impossible to do without them.
Because of this, limits, requirements and cases when they are considered legit are outlined by the law, which aims to balance the need of pursuing a prosecution with the constitutional and fundamental principle of freedom and of the the communication secrecy.
Basically, in order to derogate this principle, it is necessary that there are important elements of suspicion of crime.
Even though they are a very useful tool for the purposes of an investigation, consequently, the article n.266 of the Criminal Code has an exhaustive list of hypothesis where a similar violation of the privacy is allowed.
In particular, the article n.266 allows them for a specific series of delicts:

  • not intentional crimes punished with a life sentence or with a prison sentence not inferior to 5 years;
  • crimes against Public Administration, punished with a prison sentence not inferior to 5 years;
  • crimes concerning pychotropic or narcotic substances, explosives or weapons;
  • pornography and pedopornography;
  • insults, harassments or threats, usury and market manipulation.

Ex lege requirements

For the reasons we mentioned, nevertheless, the simple indication of the crimes when tappings are acceptable isn’t enough.
The law, indeed, requires that there are further conditions in order to carry out tappings, and there are:

  • the presence of important pieces of evidence, as intended by the Court of Cassation, which means like the seriousness of the configured charges, which cannot be limited to be just hypothetical; in particular, it is required a summary recognition of the elements from which we can infer the serious probability that a crime has been committed;

absolute indispensability of the tappings, aimed to the prosecution of the investigations and the individuation of the culprit.
At the same time, in order to protect the inviolability of the defence, the pofessional secrecy and the freedom of the defensive activty, the art. 103 c.p.p. imposes a ban on doing wiretaps that are concerning certain categories of people, such as:

  • the lawyer of one of the parties in the trial;
  • private investigators;
  • the technical consultants assigned to the case;
  • all those concerned.

How to carry it out

The tappings are personally conducted by the pm or by a designated judicial police officer, using systems installed at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, or, by way of exception, using the implants of the judicial police or the public service.
The phone tappings are the easiest and most efficient, and they consist in intercepting private conversations through checking phonecalls, messages and chats.
What just a few people know is that the phone tapping can be done even without the telephone operators collaboration; a collaboration that is nevertheless needed if you want to obtain old phone logs conversations.
The result of this type of wiretap is not always exploitable: the law bans the use of it in court when these are done out of “ex lege cases” , and among people subject to professional secrecy.
Speaking of the audio surveillances, on the other hand, they are done by using microspies, microphones and cameras installed in places like house, car or the office of the suspect.
The wiretaps, instead, are less spreaded in practical and happen through the acquisition of outgoing data packets on the web, so that you know the data while in transit from the sending computer to a receiving computer.
Otherwise, it is possible to instal a spy software on the computer of the suspect, without his knowledge.

To protect yourself from tappings

In general, it’s not difficult to protect yourself from tappings.
Just in case you have the suspect of being under audio surveillance, our advice is to proceed with a cleanup for bugs.
In this way, you’ll be able to find microspies, bugs and other devices used to catch the audio communications, in order to get them out and make your environments safe again.
If you, otherwise, suspect a phone tap, the best solution would be doing encrypted calls: the interceptor will find himself listening to an incomprehensible audio.
To make encrypted calls, you could buy a phone with integrated encryption o a software that’s capable of encrypting the incoming and outgoing communications.
We have already talked about encypted mobilephones; it will be enough to remember that it’s possible to encrypt phonecalls with the SIM of any telephone company, but the tariff plan has to include the VoIP internet traffic.
The call is encrypted only if both of the mobilephones used in the convesation are protecting in this way their conversations.
Obviously, we’re talking about legal systems and the magistrature, in this case, can only ask fo the block of the encrypted phone to intercept the calls of a suspect.

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