Are cops bugging office and home phones? That is so last century. Today’s law enforcement wiretap is far more likely to be on a “portable device,” most likely a cellphone, according to a new report by federal court administrators.
And for the first time, the report noted, U.S. law enforcement has encountered encryption schemes that prevented investigators from understanding the messages they’d intercepted.
The new study, an annual snapshot of court-ordered wiretaps produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, focused exclusively on law enforcement electronic surveillance and not on national security wiretaps approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which have become controversial in recent weeks.
The 2012 wiretap report is deliberately vague to protect prosecutions and ongoing investigations, but it provides a window into developing law enforcement trends. The Kansas City area got a distinguished mention in one of the few specific nuggets scattered throughout the brief study.