Wiretaps Increase Sharply in 2015, No Evidence of Government Surveillance "Going Dark"

In 2015, combined state and federal wiretap applications increased 16% from 3,555 to 4,148. But while government surveillance applications went up dramatically, the number of cases where investigators encountered encryption dropped significantly. Encryption was encountered in only 13 cases in 2015. The number of state wiretaps in which encryption was encountered decreased from 22 in 2014 to 7 in 2015. Law enforcement claims of "going dark” continue to be undermined by surveillance reports. EPIC has repeatedly cited the Wiretap Reports as a model of transparency for government surveillance activities and maintains comprehensive charts about the reports. The reports reveal, for example, that drug offenses were the most prevalent type of criminal offense investigated using wiretaps: 79 percent of all applications for intercepts (3,292 wiretaps) in 2015 cited illegal drugs as the most serious offense under investigation.

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