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Four states were responsible for half of US wiretaps last year

Four states were responsible for half of US wiretaps last year


Nevada leads the country in phone taps per citizen

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Half of the phone wiretaps set up in the United States in 2013 were authorized in only four states, according to a report released this month that details last year's intercepted wire, oral, and electronic communications. California accounted for more than a quarter of the total and New York made up 12 percent, while both Florida and Nevada contributed six percent of the 3,576 requests authorized by federal and state government.

The same report shows that while the number of US wiretaps only increased five percent from 2012, the figure has more than doubled since 2003, when the total amount of authorized wiretaps was 1,442. A full 97 percent of 2013's authorizations — 3,455 in total — were targeted at portable devices such as cellphones, with only a tiny fraction of taps set up on landline phones. The vast majority of the wiretaps were authorized in narcotics cases, and only five states — Hawaii, Montana, both North and South Dakota, and Vermont — had no requests at all.

The number of wiretaps authorized in Nevada was comparatively high

California, New York, and Florida are particularly populous states, helping to explain the high number of wiretaps authorized on their residents. But Nevada is something of an outlier. When factored against state population, Nevada's wiretap figures are comparatively huge, with 38.2 wiretaps authorized per 500,000 people — Colorado is second in the same statistic, with 12.4. But the Pew Research Center points out that Nevada's figures may be skewed by the presence of Las Vegas: while the state has a small population of 2.8 million, millions of people come to visit "Sin City" each year, driving up the rate of violent crime.