Eavesdropping devices are usually electronic devices that are used to intercept information and communication. They are not only used to gain access to audio communication, they are also used to gain access to visual images and data. The devices used are called eavesdropping devices because the parties whose communication is being intercepted and possibly recorded have no idea that surveillance is taking place. Most eavesdropping devices are considered illegal therefore one should be aware of the legal repercussions that may come with owning one. However, some are legal and are sold in electronic stores as well as over the internet in sites such as spyville. Espionage is considered as obtaining information regarded as a secret without the consent of the information holder.
Eavesdropping devices are mainly audio surveillance, video surveillance and data. For audio surveillance there is use of tiny microphones that have powerful amplifiers and are used with transmitters and recording devices at the other end of the people listening. These tiny microphones are planted and concealed where information is to be tapped like in a room under a lampshade or table. This is known as bugging and also the audio devices can be planted in a telephone which is known as wire tapping. Covert listening devices are the most common method used in eavesdropping; these are used for surveillance, police investigation and espionage. Some other methods of bugging are remotely activating cell phone microphones to listen in on conversations happening in the vicinity of the mobile phone (Schneier, 2006, para. 6). Vehicle computer systems used for vehicle tracking and other security features can be hacked and used to listen in on conversations taking place in the vehicle.
Video surveillance and hidden cameras are another way for eavesdropping. The advantage of this method is that it contains both audio and visual surveillance and recording. This goes on to show what is actually happening while a conversation is taking place or not. Parents have been known to use this method to check on how nannies and other people interact with their small children through the use of teddy bears that have concealed cameras. These teddy bears nicknamed ‘nanny cameras’ have to be strategically positioned so as to provide a good view of what is happening in the baby’s room. The use of such devices gives parents peace of mind as they have proof that all is well with their kids without them being necessarily there to supervise the nanny. However, this method has been used by people who have ill intentions. For example, a rich couple can be taped having their marital affairs and then the tape is used to extort or blackmail them or both. This type of eavesdropping has proven to be very intrusive and destructive to many people because it is often abused.
The other method of eavesdropping is doing so on data in a computer where the personal computer or corporate mainframes are hacked into and very sensitive information and communication is retrieved or copied somewhere else at the convenience of the hackers. Hacking is considered a serious crime which is punishable through imprisonment or payment of fines or both.
Eavesdropping is considered as intrusive by many in the sense that it infringes on a person’s privacy. However some legal bodies like the police, private investigators, FBI and other security and intelligent agencies should be allowed and regulated on the extent that they can do their surveillance especially when they have to do so without the consent of the people under surveillance.
Schneier, B. (2006). “Remotely Eavesdropping on Cell Phone Microphones”. Schneier on
Security. Retrieved from