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Courts Increase Wiretap Approvals, Led by New York, California

June 30, 2020, 5:00 PM

Judges’ approval of criminal wiretaps increased 10% last year from 2018, with possible drug offenses the leading reason for use of the devices, according to a U.S. courts report released Tuesday.

State courts approved 1,808 applications in 2019, a 22% increase from the previous year, according to the report. Half were approved in either New York or California, the report showed.

The growing use of encryption presents a challenge for law enforcement use of the wiretaps, the report said. A vast majority of federal- and state-approved use of the devices for encrypted communications led to authorities being unable to “decipher...

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