8 U. Balt. L. Rev. 183 (1978-1979)
A Diagnosis, Dissection, and Prognosis of Maryland's New Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Law

handle is hein.journals/ublr8 and id is 193 raw text is: A DIAGNOSIS, DISSECTION, AND PROGNOSIS
OF MARYLAND'S NEW WIRETAP AND
ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE LAW
Richard P. Gilbertt
This article   examines     the  Maryland     Wiretapping    and
Electronic Surveillance Act. After comparing the Maryland
act with    corresponding     federal law    dealing   with   the
interception of oral communications, the author concludes
that the Maryland act guarantees greater protection from
surreptitious eavesdropping and wiretapping than that
afforded by its federal counterpart.
I. INTRODUCTION
History does not record the first occurrence of eavesdropping,'
but it may well have been soon after Eve gave birth to Cain and
there were thus three persons in existence. Whatever its origin, the
odious practice continues today, but man no longer has to rely upon
his ear alone. Modern technology has turned persons, rooms, and
open areas into radio broadcasting stations by the simple placing of
a microphone -       or bug -     therein or by directing a highly
sensitive   listening   apparatus     toward    the   place   where    the
conversation is being held.2
t A.A., J.D., LL.M., University of Baltimore; Chief Judge Court of Special Appeals
of Maryland.
The author acknowledges with thanks the aid of Patrick Casey Duncan,
Esq., of the Montgomery County Bar and Shelly Mintz, Esq., of the Baltimore
City Bar, both of whom served as judicial clerks to the author during the term of
Court, September 1977.
1. An examination of the etymology of the term eavesdropper inevitably leads to
Sir William Blackstone, who, in 4 W. BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES (1st ed. 1803)
168, refers to Eaves-droppers, as
such as listen under walls or windows, oi the eaves of a house, to
hearken after discourse, and thereupon to frame slanderous and
mischievous tales, [and] are a common nuisance, and presentable at the
court-leet, or are indictable at the sessions, and punishable by fine and
finding sureties for their good behavior. (footnotes omitted).
2. Developments in electronics and miniaturization allow virtually indetectable
snooping to be carried out via such diverse technological wonders as transistors,
microcircuits, and lasers. Radio transmitters made out of integrated microcir-
cuits can be constructed on a piece of material smaller and thinner than a
postage stamp. The transmitter can be readily concealed in such unobtrusive
places as behind wallpaper or in a playing card. See generally E. LONG, THE
INTRUDERS 5-20 (1967); Scoular, Wiretapping and Eavesdropping Constitutional
Development from Olmstead to Katz, 12 ST. Louis U.L.J. 513, 514 (1968). Nor is
an individual even safe in the shower - microphones have been developed which
segregate man's voice from the sound of running water. Id. at 514 (footnote
omitted). See also Kamisar, The Wiretapping-Eavesdropping Problem: A
Professor's View, 44 MINN. L. REv. 891, 892-93 (1960).
Out of the pages of science fiction and into the every-day world emerges the
latest in the arsenal of electronic eavesdropping mechanisms - the laser beam.
One available portable laser microphone sends out an invisible infra-red
beam only a quarter of an inch in thickness. The power of a laser beam

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