Court Approved Wiretaps Reach a New All-Time High

According to the newly released 2010 Wiretap Report, federal and state courts issued 3,194 orders for the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications in 2010, up from 2,376 in 2009, a 34% increase. Only one request for authorization was denied. The average number of persons whose communications were intercepted rose from 113 per wiretap order in 2009 to 118 per wiretap order in 2010. Only 26% of intercepted communications in 2010 were incriminating. The report also indicated that encryption did not prevent officials from obtaining the plaintext of communications in the six cases in which it was encountered. The 2010 Wiretap Report does not include interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or interceptions approved by the President outside the exclusive authority of the federal wiretap law and the FISA. For more information, see EPIC: Wiretapping and EPIC: Title III Order Statistics.


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