(A) Except as provided in this section, no person may install or use a pen register or a trap and trace device without first obtaining a court order under Section 17-29-40.

(B) The prohibition of subsection (A) does not apply with respect to the use of a pen register or a trap and trace device by a provider of electronic or wire communication service:

Terms Used In South Carolina Code 17-29-20

  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
  • pen register: means a device which records or decodes electronic or other impulses which identify the numbers dialed or otherwise transmitted on the telephone line to which the device is attached, but this term does not include any device used by a provider or customer of a wire or electronic communication service for billing, or recording as an incident to billing, for communications services provided by the provider, or any device used by a provider or customer of a wire communication service for cost accounting or other like purposes in the ordinary course of its business. See South Carolina Code 17-29-10
  • trap and trace device: means a device which captures the incoming electronic or other impulses which identify the originating number of an instrument or device from which a wire or electronic communication was transmitted. See South Carolina Code 17-29-10

(1) relating to the operation, maintenance, and testing of a wire or electronic communication service or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider, or to the protection of users of that service from abuse of service or unlawful use of service; or

(2) to record the fact that a wire or electronic communication was initiated or completed in order to protect the provider, another provider furnishing service toward the completion of the wire communication, or a user of that service, from fraudulent, unlawful, or abusive use of service; or

(3) where the consent of the user of that service has been obtained.

(C) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (A) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.