pen register

noun
pen reg·​is·​ter

Legal Definition of pen register

: a device that registers the numbers dialed from a telephone — compare wiretap

Note: A court order is always required for the use of a pen register in a criminal investigation, but such use has not been considered a search or interception of communication by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some states have disagreed and discern a privacy interest in such information.

History and Etymology for pen register

perhaps from the original use of a pen to mark the dots or dashes used in counting the numbers dialed

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Cite this Entry

“Pen register.” Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/pen%20register. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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