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US court wiretap authorizations up in 2005

[JURIST] US courts approved 1,773 requests for wiretaps last year in state and federal investigations, a four percent increase from the prior year, according to the 2005 Wiretap Report [PDF text; table of contents] released Monday by the Administrative Office of the US Courts [official website]. In state courts, wiretap applications grew by 17 percent to 1,148 requests with New York (391), California (235), New Jersey (218), and Florida (72) leading the numbers, while federal criminal wiretaps actually dropped 14 percent.

According to the AOUSC director's report:

A total of 1,773 intercepts authorized by federal and state courts were completed in 2005, an increase of 4 percent compared to the number terminated in 2004. One application was denied. The number of applications for orders by federal authorities fell 14 percent to 625. The number of applications reported by state prosecuting officials grew 17 percent to 1,148, with three more state jurisdictions providing reports than in 2004. Wiretaps installed were in operation an average of 43 days per wiretap in 2005, the same as in 2004. The average number of persons whose communications were intercepted dropped from 126 per wiretap order in 2004 to 107 per order in 2005. The average percentage of intercepted communications that were incriminating was 22 percent in 2005, compared to 21 percent in 2004.
Five percent of the wiretaps were requested in homicide and organized crime cases and eight out of ten wiretaps were for drug investigations. The report does not include surveillance [JURIST news archive] warrants approved for terror-related probes under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text], which increased from 1,754 in 2004 to 2,072 in 2005. AP has more.

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