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US Wiretap Report Released 48

sTeF writes "According to the 2010 Wiretap Report (Pdf), released today by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) federal and state requests for court permission to intercept or wiretap electronic communications increased 34% in 2010 over 2009. California, New York, and New Jersey accounted for 68% of all wire taps approved by state judges."
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US Wiretap Report Released

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  • Wasnt this discussed a few days earlier?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      so can we C&P the whole discussion in here and just be done with it?

  • Unless I am having an amazing case of deja vu, I am pretty sure that I read this last Friday right here on /. ?

  • New York and New Jersey are huge mafia states, so I can easily see why the have wiretap increases. Not to mention they seem to be the main targets of terrorists.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention they seem to be the main targets of terrorists.

      Based on a sample size of one?

      • by sribe ( 304414 )

        Based on a sample size of one?

        Four, actually, that I can think of just off the top of my head ;-)

    • Re:mob (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @09:58PM (#36649656)

      Did you say something about terrorists? I must have missed where anyone was discussing terrorists*.

      Wiretaps have not and do not stop terrorists, and the number has increased EACH and EVERY year since 2002. These wiretaps have not led to a decrease in CRIME, a decrease in the existence of the mafia (RIAA+MPAA+BSA?) (other than The Sopranos being canceled), or any positive outcome.

      Judges have REGULARLY allowed law enforcement to "latitude" in excess (abuse) of the 4th amendment.

      I understand it's REALLY EASY to ignore the topic altogether and say "well it's higher in New York and New Jersey so it's ok." However, the Constitution's protections don't have a "some slashdot read thinks it's ok if it's only NY/NJ suffers so let's ignore it" clause. It's EQUAL protection under the LAW.

      I tried to use big letters, because the little letters in the Fourth Amendment seem to have escaped attention.

      *P.S. The "9/11" plane attackers had valid non-expired government issued photo IDs, no weapons, knives, liquids, or were caught on wiretaps. Some of them flew out of JFK (which is in NY). What's the mob connection there? Oh. None? You don't say. So this REALLY is an example of courts giving law enforcement privileges they shouldn't have WHICH IN NO WAY FIGHT TERRORISM, PAST, PRESENT, or FICTION? Got it.

      • Re:mob (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2011 @11:10PM (#36649874)

        Had you actually bothered to read the PDF or the article, you would have known that most of these wiretaps (~84%) involved drugs, not terrorism. Furthermore, court ordered wiretaps are perfectly legal, ethical, and in keeping with the spirit of the constitution (provided, of course, there is due cause, and you have no reason to suspect that there wasn't. As I said, terrorism seems not to have even been mentioned in the vast, vast number of cases) and, you know, necessary. The pretty regular increase over the past 10 years is pretty much in keeping with what you would expect given the ever increasing prevalence of electronic communication via cell phones, IMs, etc. Nothing to see here, stop spreading your FUD. Its not the government using terrorism as an excuse, though they do that plenty of other times, its law enforcement doing what its more or less supposed to do, which is bust large, well-organized crime rings. Hell, the largest operation involved a corruption investigation. Woulda though /. would be all for busting corrupt politicians.

        P.S. oh, and the number of intercepts actually went down in 2008 from 2007, and 2003 from 2002 (though only barely there), so please, get your facts straight. Using caps does not make your "facts" any less false.

        • Hopefully you get modded up so people can be exposed to some truth, instead of irrational fear.

        • Re:mob (Score:5, Insightful)

          by one-egg ( 67570 ) <geoff@cs.hmc.edu> on Monday July 04, 2011 @01:09AM (#36650234) Homepage
          The reason terrorism is relevant is because it is regularly used as justification for loosening wiretap restrictions. If the wiretaps aren't actually being used for terrorism, the justification is bogus. Your claim about the rise in wiretaps being due to the rise in electronic communication is completely wrong; in case you haven't noticed the telephone is over 100 years old and has been the normal mode of communication for many decades. If mobiles were the cause of the increase, you'd expect a very high number of "roving" wiretaps, but the report lists only a tiny number. Likewise, online accounts are a poor explanation since wiretap orders can cover multiple technologies. But your worst "reasoning" is in your postscript, where you try to imply that two year-to-year decreases prove there is no upward trend. A glance at the graphe is sufficient to nuke that allegation; it's obvious that there is noise in the data but the trend is upward (and although it's too early to be sure, there seems to be an explosion going on since Obama took office).
          • Maybe the rise in wiretap requests is because of pressure to actually make the requests rather than perform them anyway without a warrant.

            Hey, I can hope.

          • by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

            Excellent analysis. Thank you for your post!

        • ethical

          That depends on who you ask.

      • by saylar ( 2161926 )
        may be
    • Re:mob (Score:5, Funny)

      by M. Baranczak ( 726671 ) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @11:18PM (#36649902)

      New York and New Jersey are huge mafia states, so I can easily see why the have wiretap increases.

      You are correct. In 2009, law enforcement was still completely unaware of the mob activity in NY and NJ. But after they got HBO, it's opened their eyes to a lot of the shenanigans going on around here. They'll have the miscreants sorted out in no time - 2, 3 months max.

      • In NJ and NY there has been a large increase in the number of wiretaps going after white collar crime. For example the use of wiretaps to go after insider trading is a very new application. In NJ there has been a big increase regarding investigations into corrupt local politics.

        All of this plus the fact that this article covers court approved wiretaps makes me think that these are pretty much legitimate uses of wiretaps - constitutionally and for good purpose.

        I am sure there are other areas that deserve mor

  • Keep in mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by an00bis ( 667089 ) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @09:42PM (#36649598)
    That 34% doesn't include the ones you're not supposed to know about.
    • Re:Keep in mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @09:49PM (#36649624) Journal
      TFS makes that distinction, implicitly. "Requests for court permission". This suggests that even your neighborhood doughnut-eater, and those barely above him on the food chain, are getting hip to this "wiretap" stuff that the kids are all talking about these days. All the cool law enforcement are virtually exempt from even having to bother with a judicial rubber stamp.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can we get a link to the EU's public record of domestic surveillance requests we can compare to?

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      No. Because in the EU questioning it's directives is dangerous.

    • no idea about the EU but compared to Germany the USA are wiretap noobs.

      In 2009 [bundesjustizamt.de] (no newer data available) we had over 5000 legal procedures resulting in wiretap authorizations, with the unsettling sum of over 20000 granted decrees.

  • Seriously, I'd be curious about the trend in tapping of land lines. And not %, but absolute numbers. How much of the 34% increase in monitoring electronic comms is just offsetting decrease in monitoring of land lines? *(And I know the answer might be "none" just as well as any other answer.) Without that context, this is a completely meaningless factoid.

  • As I recall, Obama's not necessarily averse to abusing FISA like his predecessor did.

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @12:19AM (#36650074)
    ...if your junk hasn't been e-surfed.
    • ...if your junk ...

      The word you're looking for is: penis. Why is everyone having such a hard time (no pun intended) with this? It's not like it's "He who must not be named" or anything. (In case you're living under a rock. [wikipedia.org])

      Hmmm. While looking for alternates, I came across this [yahoo.com]:

      Because we're taught to think that our penises are dirty and we should be ashamed of any sexual actions," Adam ... said. "We live in a society based on Puritan beliefs, so by calling it 'junk' we are perpetuating the notion that penises are despicable."

      That may be a bit too serious but it's an interesting thought. Or is penis one of the 7 words you can't say on TV? [wikipedia.org]

      • No, "junk" refers to all the male genitalia including the scrotum and its contents (sometimes referred to in the colloquial vernacular as the "nutsack" or "family jewels") as well as the penis. Corresponding slang words for the female include the "pud" or "twat".
      • In other circles, "junk" might just refer to your racks of servers.
  • by littlewink ( 996298 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @01:37AM (#36650326)
    We all know that most wiretaps have no court permission (or have FISA court permission, which is a rubber-stamp operation), so why not provide those numbers too?

    Oh, the gubmint won't release the numbers?

  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @02:33AM (#36650470) Homepage Journal

    The greatest fear of the current US administration isn't terrorists, it's their own citizens. Terrorists aren't going to rise up and throw them out of office or worse, American citizens are.

    So while they're not saying anything about who they're tapping (other than the usual bogeymen) it's YOU they're worried about. They're looking for revolutionary groups forming so they can wipe them out while they're still small. They've got a good thing going for themselves and their select group of cronies and they're not about to let you interfere with it.

    You won't hear about it much; national security, you know. As long as they can keep most of it secret and keep you thinking that everything is OK, they'll continue to live a luxurious life and get away with whatever they want to do.

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:21AM (#36650582)
      The people of America arn't going to rise up either. They have television. If they don't like their government, the worst they are going to do is go on the internet and rant. You might get the odd extremeist here and there, but not enough to trigger a true uprising.
      • by Whuffo ( 1043790 )
        It's not what the people of America will do - it's what the government and corporate leaders of America *think* they will do. If you were living high on the hog on money you pretty much stole - you might be a little paranoid, too.
      • A government needs active support too. As people work under the table, stop cooperating with police, and as government employees' morale decreases things gradually fall apart. If a governor declared independence or if there were a coup everyone would go on watching TV, and would find the news entertaining.
    • It's not really our "government" so much as those that have it in their pockets. They, the dynastic upper magnates of the banking cartel, big oil, big pharmy, etc., are the ones who worry most of all
  • Tell the same story over and over without remembering that they've done it. How do I know this? Let me tell you...

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.