US Court Report: Wiretaps increase 82%

A new report from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC), published on June 30, 2011, shows a dramatic across the board increase in approved wiretaps and interceptions. The briefing from the AOUSC can be found here.

While the total increase for state and federal shows only a 34% increase, approved wiretaps approved by federal judges in 2010 show an increase of 84% when compared to 2009 cases. (Raw Data Here) As shocking as the 84% increase is, one of the main reasons for this rise is even more troublesome. From the report:

“These increases were due, at least in part, to changes in reporting procedures and to enhanced AOUSC efforts to ensure that federal and state authorities were aware of their reporting responsibilities.”

Common sense rules. Basically, this number of wiretaps increased, in part, because authorities were not reporting them correctly. Most likely, they weren’t reporting them at all or they were misfiling them. Both scenarios are problematic. If these wiretaps, and the details of parties involved, were just misfiled then they may not have been treated as truly sensitive documents. But if they weren’t misfiled than how many of these wiretaps were obtained and conducted without proper permission?

While the vast majority of the country, regardless of political philosophy, has demanded increase in transparency regarding these affairs it offers little assurance for those in favor of privacy. Since this newest report shows such a dramatic up tick in approved wiretaps, and they admit the increase, in part, was due to confusion in reporting and approval procedure, shouldn’t the next step be a Congressional Investigation? In the spirit of transparency the next logical step would be to shine light on all the cases that were handled inappropriately. If they were handled wrong from the beginning it is entirely possible that the rest of the procedure(s) operated outside of the legal precedence afforded to investigators.