Wiretap orders increased in 2017

Published July 1st, 2018

The US Judiciary has just released figures describing the volume of federally ordered wiretaps from 2017. Both the number of wiretaps and the number of convictions arising from them rose. At first glance, these statistics are troubling, but it’s debatable what the implications of the increase in wiretap orders actually are.

The rise in targeted surveillance conducted under the order of a warrant may actually indicate that federal agencies are shifting their investigative tactics to focus on specific leads rather than casting a wide net. Most people are opposed to the type of dragnet-style spying operations that Edward Snowden described to the world, but that’s not what these wiretaps are. The fact that the number of convictions arising from these wiretaps has also risen suggests that the tactic has been successful.