Tech Industry

Voice preferred medium for wiretapping

Only 4 percent of wiretaps not related to terrorism were targeted at computers and electronic devices last year, a government report shows.

Only 4 percent of wiretaps not related to terrorism were targeted at computers and electronic devices last year, according to a government report made public last week. The rest of the 1,442 non-terrorism wiretaps--which intercepted a total of 4.3 million communications or conversations in 2003--were primarily aimed at voice communications, according to statistics from the U.S. courts. "The most active federal wiretap occurred in the district of Minnesota, where a racketeering investigation involving the interception of computer messages on a digital subscriber line resulted in the interception of a total of 141,420 messages over 21 days," the report said.

A second government document released April 30 summarizes wiretaps, typically related to terrorism and espionage, performed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2003. The two-page letter offers few details, saying only that all but four of 1,727 requests for FISA wiretaps were approved last year.