Wiretap applications jump last year

June 30, 2011 at 2:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- Federal and state applications for wiretaps jumped 34 percent last year as compared to 2009, the U.S. courts said Thursday.

But the courts said the increase may be partly attributed to better reporting procedures.

The taps include wire, oral or electronic intercepts, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said in Washington. The statistics are part of the "2010 Wiretap Report."

A total of 3,194 intercept applications by federal and state courts were authorized last year, the report said, with 1,207 applications by federal authorities authorized and 1,987 applications by 25 states authorized. Only one application was denied.

Installed intercepts totaled 2,311.

Compared to the taps approved in 2009, the number of applications reported as approved by federal judges rose 82 percent last year, the report said. The number of applications reported as approved by state judges increased 16 percent.

The report said the increases were due in part to changes in reporting procedures and to administrative office efforts to ensure federal and state authorities were aware of their reporting responsibilities.

Wiretap applications in California, New York and New Jersey accounted for 68 percent approved by state judges.

The report said the most frequent location in wiretap applications was "portable device," a category that includes cellular telephones and digital pagers.

In 2010, 96 percent of all authorized wiretaps were designated as portable devices.

Telephone wiretaps accounted for 97 percent (2,253 cases) of the intercepts installed last year, the majority of which were cellular telephones, the report said.

Eighty-four percent of all applications for intercepts (2,675 wiretaps) last year said illegal drugs were the most serious offense under investigation. As of last Dec. 31, 2010, 4,711 persons had been arrested and 800 persons had been convicted as a result of all interceptions reported as terminated last year.

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