IN THE KNOW: Anti-Wiretapping Law
Republic Act No. 4200, or the Anti-Wiretapping Law, was passed on June 19, 1965, to safeguard the constitutional right to privacy of communication.
The law prohibits the tapping of any wire or cable or using other devices to record, intercept, or secretly overhear any private communication or spoken word when it is unauthorized by all parties in the conversation, except when it is done pursuant to a court order and complies with all conditions imposed by the law.
Possession of any tape, wire, disc, or other record, or copies of an illegally obtained recording of a private communication and replaying an illegal recording for another person or furnishing transcripts of the communication, whether complete or partial, are also punishable by law.
According to the explanatory note in the Senate Bill No. 9 introduced by Sen. Lorenzo Tañada in 1962, the law also intends to stop the practice of government officials of spying on each other—a “most obnoxious instrument of oppression or arbitrary power.”
Any illegally obtained recordings are inadmissible in any judicial, quasijudicial, administrative, and legislative hearings or investigations.
Direct participants to the wiretapping and anyone who aids, permits, or causes the violation are, upon conviction, punished by imprisonment of not less than six months or more than six years. If the offender is a public official at the time of the offense, he shall be penalized with perpetual absolute disqualification from public office. If the offender is a foreigner, he shall be subject to deportation.
Sources: Republic Act No. 4200, Free Legal Assistance Group FAQ on Anti-Wiretapping Law
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