Where was the interception? In football, a quarterback, standing on his own ten-yard line, may direct a pass to his wide receiver on the forty-yard line. An intervening defensive back, however, with probable cause to anticipate the pass, may leap up and pull the ball out of the air at the thirty-yard line. In the binary "either-or" world of football, the interception precludes the reception. In the multi-layered world of electronic surveillance, by contrast, the message may be received at its destination even as it is simultaneously intercepted in mid-flight. Our problem on this appeal is to pinpoint the legally significant spot at which an electro-magnetic transmission is effectively converted by the opposing team to its own use. Where, jurisdictionally, does the interception take place? At the ten-yard line, the thirty-yard line, the forty-yard line, or at all three places at once?
On the other hand, does such a question even make sense? May valid analogies be drawn between a tangible actuality such as a football and an intangible concept such as communication? Is intercepting the opposing quarterback's pass at all analogous to aiming a parabolic microphone at him to intercept his signal calling? Analogies, at the very least, will be highly strained.
In the earlier and simpler world of wiretapping, with caselaw trailing all the way back toOlmstead v. United States, supra, in 1928, a focus on the actual location of the phone to be tapped made sense. The phone was tethered by a landline and it could not wander off, let alone cross a boundary line. In the infinitely more fluid world of cellular phone technology, by contrast, the physical location of a cell phone at any given moment is so random as to be meaningless. The instrument itself can easily cross, and even recross, a political border — county, state, or national — in the course of a single conversation. The jurisdictional dilemmas, if the focus were on the instrument itself, could be kaleidoscopic. We confidently hold that the Maryland General Assembly did not, with its 1991 amendment, intend to create such a jurisdictional phantasmagoria.