Wiretaps Up 26% in 2009

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Electronic surveillance by law enforcement and prosecutors increased significantly last year, mostly to combat drug-related crimes. In a report issued by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, it was revealed that wiretap authorizations jumped 26% from 2008 to 2009.

More than 95% of wiretaps approved by criminal court judges targeted cell phones used by suspects in drug cases.
It is estimated that 268,488 people in 2009 had either their text messages or phone calls monitored by law enforcement, which Wired said was a new record. However, the frequency of electronic surveillance yielding incriminating evidence in 2009 was only 19%, the same as the year before. Almost 60% of state-authorized wiretaps (1,010 of 1,713) took place in only two states, California and New York, which account for barely 18% of the U.S. population.
The reporting by the judicial administrative office did not include wiretap orders in terrorism investigations, which go through the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or those Americans whose communications were monitored by the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The average wiretap lasts 42 days and costs $52,200.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Police Wiretapping Jumps 26 Percent (by Ryan Singel, Wired)


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