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Legislature plans to pass wiretapping amendment after consensus reached

TAIPEI -- Lawmakers across party lines reached a consensus Monday on draft amendments to the Communication Security and surveillance Act that will limit a wiretap order to one individual suspect only.

The consensus was reached amid concerns over wiretapping abuses and communications security in the wake of the controversial wiretapping of the Legislature by the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office last year.

The draft amendments are expected to clear the Legislature Tuesday.

Wu Ping-jui, a caucus whip of the Democratic Progressive Party, said the draft amendments will allow prosecutors to ask the court to issue a wiretap order only after the prosecutors office has formally registered a case.

They will also restrict the order to apply to one individual suspect, although prosecutors can ask for several orders in the same case or a related case.

In addition, the amendments will stipulate that criminal material inadvertently obtained through a wiretap cannot be used as evidence in the criminal proceedings of another case, according to Legislator Lee Guei-min of the ruling Kuomintang.

But if prosecutors find material related to another crime and successfully apply for a separate court-approved wiretap order within seven days of the wiretap, the material can still be used as evidence, Lee said.

Lawmakers also agreed on some exceptions, saying that prosecutors could obtain communications records immediately rather than wait for a court's approval in robberies and murders and cases involving fraud, drug abuse, human trafficking and offenses subject to more than seven years in jail.

Under the consensus, any information obtained from a wiretap that is unrelated to the purpose of the investigation cannot be transcribed.

If civil servants or former civil servants use wiretapping information for another purpose, they will be subject to a sentence of up to three years in prison.

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