Secret Wiretap Activity Up Dramatically in 2003; Crypto Not a Problem on Criminal Side
Near simultaneous reports, one on secret intelligence wiretaps and one on criminal cases, show dramatic increases in wiretap activity in the US. According to a skeletal report dated April 30, the number of requests for surveillance and search orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has almost doubled since 2001, rising by 500 in 2003, when 1724 orders were approved. Meanwhile, the Wiretap Report on the number and nature of federal and state wiretaps conducted in criminal cases shows a total of 1,442 orders. The Wiretap Report also states that in 2003, no instances were reported of encryption being encountered on federal wiretaps. One state jurisdiction encountered encryption in 2003 but it did not prevent officials from obtaining the plain text of communications intercepted.