Surge in Wiretaps Across the Country

     (CN) - State and federal judges authorized more than 3,500 wiretaps in 2013, up 5 percent over the previous year, a report released Wednesday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts shows.
     Convictions from wiretaps increased 56 percent from 2012, with telephone wiretaps the most common method of surveillance, the office's 2013 Wiretap Report states. Seven hundred and nine people were convicted in 2013. The majority of the interceptions were for crimes involving drug offenses, followed by smuggling and money-laundering offenses.
     Federal judges granted 1,476 wiretaps to authorities, a 9 percent increase. State judges rubber-stamped 2,100 wiretaps, up 3 percent from the previous year. Only one state wiretap application was denied in 2013, the administrative office said in its newsletter, The Third Branch News.
     "Applications in California, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida accounted for 80 percent of all applications approved by state judges. Eighty federal jurisdictions submitted reports of wiretap interceptions in 2013," the newsletter states.
     In addition to the U.S. government, 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have adopted laws that authorize wire, oral and electronic surveillance, the administrative office noted.
     The office submits the report, which includes data on intercepted wire, oral or electronic communications, to lawmakers in Washington every year. The office is not permitted to report on data regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).