US government increases wiretraps by 20 per cent

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A US court report on wiretapping shows that the phenomenon is up by 20 per cent on last year, reaching its highest ever level, with not even a single surveillance application turned down in the whole of 2007.

The report notes that last year alone, 2,208 wiretaps were authorised by the courts, most having been requested by US state authorities, with only 457 being requested by Federal Agencies. This is significantly higher than the 1839 requested in 2006.

According to the report, citizens shouldn’t have to worry about big brother listening in on their phone calls unless they are involved in drug deals or, in very rare incidents, murders and assaults.

A whopping 81 per cent of portable devices (including pagers and mobile phones) monitored in 2007 were related to drugs busts, with only 6 per cent being reserved for potential murder suspects. Maybe that’s because drugs are lucrative and wiretapping is a costly business, wracking up a hefty cost of US$48,477 per investigation.

Adding to the inflated number of US civilian wiretraps, the US Justice department last week also admitted that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance was on the rise, with 2370 wiretrap applications approved by the courts in 2007 alone. And those are the ones with warrants.

So if you think they’re listening in on you… you’re not being paranoid, you’re probably just perceptive. µ

L’Inq WireTrap Report
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