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2013 Report Shows Increase in Federal and State Wiretaps

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The number of federal and state wiretaps authorized in 2013 increased 5 percent over 2012, with telephone wiretaps the most common form of surveillance. As of December 31, 2013, 709 persons had been convicted as a result of authorized interceptions, up 56 percent from 2012.

The 2013 Wiretap Report provides information on intercepted wire, oral, or electronic communications. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is required by statute to annually report to Congress the number of applications for orders authorizing or approving the intercepts. The current report covers intercepts concluded between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

A total of 3,576 wiretaps were reported as authorized in 2013. Federal judges authorized 1,476 wiretaps, up 9 percent from the number authorized in 2012. State judges approved 2,100 wiretaps, up 3 percent from 2012. One state wiretap application was denied in 2013.

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.

Drug offenses were the most prevalent type of criminal offenses investigated and the second-largest category of offenses investigated includes smuggling and money laundering offenses. The Wiretap Report does not include data on interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The AO is not authorized to collect or report this data.

Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the federal government currently have laws authorizing courts to issue intercept orders permitting wire, oral, or electronic surveillance.

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