The Justice Department’s use of electronic surveillance has jumped by a whopping 64 per cent since 2009.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the American Civil Liberties Union found that court orders for both pen registers and trap-and-trace devices on phones increased from 23,535 in 2009 to a shocking 37,616 in 2011, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
A pen register records all the numbers dialed by a phone line while a trap-and-trace device records the numbers for inbound callers to a suspected criminal.
The names are a “bit misleading” according to The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, which reports that while in the past the monitoring devices were little black boxes the feds fixed to phone lines, now interception capabilities are built right into the phone companies’ hardware.
This chart, posted by Law Blog, illustrates just how dramatically the Justice Department increased its use of electronic surveillance:
Photo: via Law Blog
The feds also targeted people’s email and network communications more frequently in the past couple of years, with court orders for the information jumping from 360 in 2009 to 1,661 in 2011, according to the AP.
These findings come as the Obama Administration is in an all-out battle to keep it’s National defence Authorization Act on the table.
Judge Katherine Forrest permanently blocked the act, which allows the government to indefinitely detain anyone accused of terrorism, earlier this month, claiming it had a “chilling effect” on free speech.
The Obama administration fought back instantly, saying Forrest overstepped her bounds when she challenged the White House, which has long had the power to detain anyone it deems a threat.
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