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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

313.10 - Listening In or Recording Telephone Conversations

2/28/90

OPR: Information Systems Division

1. Purpose. This chapter incorporates Department of the Interior regulations regarding the utilization of wire services in all USGS activities both telephone and telegraph. It restates USGS policy and criteria regarding the use of listening-in and/or recording devices.

2. Policy. The USGS does not condone the listening in or recording of telephone conversations. It is only permissible when specifically approved for such activities as law enforcement, counterintelligence, public safety, aid to a handicapped employee, and service quality monitoring. Multiple party conversations and third party call monitoring are only allowable when all parties of the telephone conversation consent. When speakerphones are utilized in telephone conversations, all parties shall be informed of the number or names of persons listening in. In no case will tape recorders or secretarial note taking, i.e., shorthand be permitted without the unanimous consent of all parties.

3. Definitions.

A. "Consensual" means that one party to a telephone conversation has given prior consent to the interception or recording of the conversation.

B. "Nonconsensual" means that none of the parties to a telephone conversation have given consent to the interception or recording of the conversation.

C. "Listening-in devices" means such devices that can intercept any telephone communication and be used to listen in and/or record telephone conversations without the knowledge of one or more of the parties to the conversation.

D. "Determination" means a written document (usually a letter) that specifies the operational need for listening in or recording telephone conversations; indicates the specific system and location where it is performed; lists the number of telephones and/or recorders involved; establishes operating times and an expiration date; and justifies the use. It is signed by the agency head or the agency head's designee.

4. Use of Consensual Listening-in Devices will be approved by the Chief, Branch of Telecommunications Services, Information Systems Division, (ISD) or his/her designee and by the Office of Information Resources Management, Division of Telecommunications (377 DM 8). Consensual listening in or recording of telephone conversations by USGS personnel is prohibited except with prior Departmental approval in the following circumstances:

A. When performed for law enforcement purposes in accordance with the Attorney General's guidelines for Administration of Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and pursuant to procedures established by the Attorney General.

B. When performed for counterintelligence purposes and approved by the Attorney General or his/her designee.

C. When performed by a Federal employee for public safety purposes such as police and fire department operations, air traffic safety control, and marine rescue operation.

D. When performed by a Federal handicapped employee, provided a physician has certified that the employee is physically handicapped and the use of a listening-in or recording device is required to fully perform the duties of the official position description.

5. Speakerphones. When Speakerphones are utilized in telephone conversations, the caller will be informed of names of the persons listening in. In no case will tape recorders or secretarial note taking, i.e., shorthand, be permitted without the unanimous consent of all parties on all lines.

6. Monitoring of Telephone Calls. Except as provided below, no employee of the USGS will authorize or permit the practice of monitoring telephone conversations with persons within or outside the Department.

A. The installation and use of listening-in devices, such as exclusion keys, push-to-talk, and push-to-listen features of a telephone hand set, or other devices with the capacity for intercepting oral or written communications, are prohibited.

Deviation from this policy is permitted only when it is determined to be essential to the effective execution of Survey responsibility or required for operational needs. At the headquarters level, requests for such deviations must be justified in writing through the appropriate Division Chief. At the field level, requests for such deviations must be justified in writing through appropriate Regional Management Officers, and reviewed by respective Division Chiefs. The requests must then be forwarded through the Chief, Branch of Telecommunications Services, ISD, for submission to the Department for final approval.

B. If, during the course of a telephone conversation, it becomes necessary to record a portion of the conversation, a third party may be permitted to come in on the line, after adequate notice has been given to the other parties, to take notes on a particular portion of the conversation. This practice will be limited strictly to cases of real need. The monitoring will be terminated with a notice to the other parties as soon as it is completed. Data that could identify the caller will not be recorded by the monitoring party.

C. Any telephone instrument that is subject to being monitored will be conspicuously labeled with a statement to that effect.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/313/313-10.html
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 08-Jan-2013@15:23 (kk)
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