2013 Wiretap Report Released

On July 2, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts released its annual statistical report on federal and state wiretaps for 2013. The report is here.

In a nutshell:

  • The number of federal and state wiretaps authorized in 2013 reached a ten year high -- there were 3,576.
  • Only 1 wiretap application was rejected, and that was by a state court. (Number of requests: 3577)
  • 87% of all wiretaps were for drug offenses.
  • Average cost of a federal wiretap: $43,361.


  • 1,476 of the wiretaps were authorized by federal judges. (Table 2). The most were in the Southern District of California (124). Second was Arizona (96). The Eastern District of Missouri was 3rd (74.) The Western District of Texas and Central District of California were 4th and 5th with 59. Colorado was 6th with 56. (Colorado was higher than the Southern District of Florida (Miami), Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), Southern District of Texas (Houston) and every district in New York.)
  • 97 percent (3,455 wiretaps) were for mobile phones and devices

I didn't see any federal authorizations for terror offenses, although there were 24 federal wiretaps for unspecified "other offenses."

Shorter version: the War on Drugs and electronic surveillance go together like peanut butter and jelly. It's costing us a fortune and eroding our privacy rights. Congress needs to turn off the spending faucet.

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