In the 1970s and ’80s, when undercover agents recorded conversations with mobsters and corrupt politicians, they wore a bulky tape recorder strapped around their waists–that sometimes weighed as much as 10 pounds–and wires, connected to a microphone, taped to their chests. Needless to say, they were nervous about being caught!

In the April 8th edition of the New York Times, Wendy Ruderman quotes retired FBI agent Robert K. Wittman as saying, "When you pulled them off, all the hair came off our chest. There used to be a lot of recordings that ended with ‘Aaahhhhh,’ when you ripped the wires off. It was almost like getting a body wax."

Today that has all changed: Recording equipment has been miniaturized.

Ruderman quotes FBI agent Joaquin Garcia as saying, "In the old days, they would say, ‘Let me pat you down for a wire.’ Now there is no need to wear a wire. It’s become extinct. It’s all gone digital. But what are you going to say, ‘I’m wearing digital,’ instead of ‘I’m wearing a wire?’ It’s just become part of the parlance of law enforcement."

Ruderman quotes US attorney Richard B. Zabel as saying, "Technology has made it so easy to plant a device that is much less detectable. Yes, people are conscious of being recorded, but as you’ve seen, in some cases they are not able to find the recorder anyway.

"Your options have increased a lot because the devices are a lot smaller. They can really hide them now in buttons, in pens, at the point of a pen, in a cuff link or the edge of a tie clip."

Is the person you’re sitting with recording you with his or her earring? More reason than ever to be paranoid! (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show and NEW one-year subscribers will get a FREE tote bag to carry THEIR recording devices around in!)

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