The number of wiretaps authorized by state and federal judges in criminal investigations jumped 26 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to a report released Friday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Courts authorized 2,376 criminal wiretap orders in 2009, with 96 percent targeting mobile phones in drug cases, according to the report. Federal officials requested 663 of the wiretaps, while 24 states accounted for 1,713 orders.
Not one request for a wiretap was turned down.
Each wiretap caught the communications of an average of 113 people, meaning that 268,488 people had text messages or phone calls monitored through the surveillance in 2009, a new record. Only 19 percent of the intercepted communications were incriminating, the same as in 2008. The report attributes some of the rise in the numbers to better reporting by the nation’s courts.
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