Law enforcement surveillance of emails, text messages and phone calls are at an all-time high, according to an African Union with East and Western African countries leading in spying the public due to increase in terrorism and crime activities in their regions. More Netizens are being subjected to pen register and trap and trace surveillance in the past three years than in the entire previous three decades.For those who don’t know pen registers capture outgoing data, while trap and trace devices log incoming data, including information about the time and length of phone conversations, specific numbers called, and email addresses. While these types of surveillance devices are not used to capture phone conversations or to read the content of emails, they are very powerful and rogue security officers can read or capture phone conversation.Two decades ago, physical devices were attached to telephone lines in order to covertly record the incoming and outgoing numbers dialed but today, no special equipment is required to record this information, as interception capabilities are built into mobile phone companies’ call-routing hardware.
Between June 2008 and mid 2012 released data indicates the number of original orders issued for phone surveillance increased by 73 percent. And while it is still rare, data shows the number of authorization to use surveillance devices on individuals’ email and network data increased by 617 percent over the same four years period.The general public privacy were not infringed upon because it almost all reported cases, the security details obtained court approval before using these types of surveillance devices. The African Union says the legal standards that law enforcement agencies must meet before using these types of surveillance techniques are too low.To wiretap a phone, the government should convince a judge that it has sufficient probable cause and that the wiretap is essential to an investigation say for terrorism or security reasons. When it comes to a pen register, most African Union member countries government need only to submit certification to a court stating that it seeks information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.