Two key points in all of this, one 85% of what the FBI does seems to be surrounding going after people for drugs and all the cries about how law enforcement desperately needs new powers of surveillance are for the most part BS.
|The vast majority of law enforcement wiretaps in 2011 were for telephones (including mobiles) and only a tiny percentage included encryption, which in no case prevented officials from obtaining the plain text of the communications.|
By David Perera, July 2, 2012
That's according to the latest annual U.S. Courts report on wiretapping by federal and state government-authorized wiretaps.
Of the 2,189 court-ordered intercepts, 95.6 percent of the 2,189 total were for some type of telephone, whether a plain old one, a cell phone or another type of mobile device. Only four were against some type of electronic device, including a digital pager, fax or computer. Another six were for oral communications (intercepted with a microphone) and 87 were for a combination of more than one intercept type.
The FBI has said that new methods of telecommunications make it difficult for it to intercept communications--it calls the phenomenon "going dark." Although the FBI doesn't only refer to cryptography as part of the term, it includes encryption in it. However, the report says that from the period of Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31 of that same year, "twelve instances were reported of encryption encountered during state wiretaps" and officials intercepted the communications anyway.
It also says that drug offenses were the most prevalent type of criminal offense investigated by using wiretaps, with homicide being the second-most frequently cited crime. About 85 percent of wiretaps were related to drug offenses.
Federal officials asked for 29 percent of the total; a wiretap stayed active on average 42 days. The overall number of wiretaps authorized by courts decreased by 14 percent relative to 2010.
- go to the 2011 wiretap report webpage on the U.S. court website