Extent of Legally Authorized Wiretapping in US

"The number of federal and state wiretaps reported in 2013 increased 5 percent from 2012. A total of 3,576 wiretaps were reported as authorized in 2013, with 1,476 authorized by federal judges and 2,100 authorized by state judges. Compared to the applications approved during 2012, the number approved by federal judges increased 9 percent in 2013, and the number approved by state judges rose 3 percent. One state wiretap application was denied in 2013.
"In 27 states, a total of 142 separate local jurisdictions (including counties, cities, and judicial districts) reported wiretap applications for 2013. Applications in California, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida accounted for 80 percent of all applications approved by state judges. Eighty federal jurisdictions submitted reports for 2013. The Southern District of California authorized the most federal wiretaps, approximately 8 percent of the applications approved by federal judges.
"Federal judges and state judges authorized 1,097 wiretaps and 101 wiretaps, respectively, for which the AO received no corresponding data from prosecuting officials. Wiretap Tables A-1 and B-1 (which will be available after July 15, 2014; sign up to receive an email alert when they are published) contain information from all judge and prosecutor reports submitted for 2013. The entry 'NP' appears in these tables whenever a prosecutor’s report was not submitted. Some of the prosecutors’ reports were received too late to include in this document, and some prosecutors may have delayed filing reports to avoid jeopardizing ongoing investigations. Information about these wiretaps should appear in future reports."

It is important to note: "This report does not include data on interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which the AO is not authorized to collect or report."


Administrative Office of the United States Courts, 2013 Wiretap Report (Washington, DC: June 2014).