How Many Wiretaps are Authorized in the US?

2,376 wiretaps were authorized in the United States (U.S.) in 2009 for the purpose of rooting out criminal activity. The average cost per wiretap order was $52,200 U.S. Dollars (USD). Every request for a wiretap was approved that year — the federal government requested 663 and 24 of the U.S. states requested the remaining 1,713.

More Big Brother facts:

  • 96% of the taps were on mobile phones, listening to drug chatter.

  • The two nosiest states were California, with 425 wiretaps, and New York, with 402.

  • The $52,200 resulted in 678 convictions out of 4,537 arrests.

  • 19% of the overheard calls were incriminating.
More Info: U.S. Courts Library; Wired

Discussion Comments


While I certainly understand why wiretaps have to be used, on the other hand, I'm quite surprised that they're so expensive. If that's the case, then how do people purchase them unless they're incredibly rich? On another note though, while there are many who would consider wiretapping to be an invasion of privacy, I really feel that this all depends on how people intend to use it.

As an example, if people are using it to sniff out criminal activity, then it's understandable that they would go to these extreme lengths. Some criminals can be quite tricky to catch. While I've never used a wiretapping device before, considering how much they cost, I'd say it's all the more worth it.

On the other hand, if people use wiretapping to listen in on other people's conversations, then I feel that's a different story. To many, that's considered an invasion of privacy, and it's something that should only be used by the government, who have every right to do so.

Overall though, I feel that people are a little to paranoid about wiretaps. While it's understandable how it can lead to some people being suspicious, invading someone's privacy isn't always a bad thing, especially if they're an elusive criminal.

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