Using a single wiretap order as part of single drug investigation, US federal agents somehow managed to spy on millions — millions — of cell phone conversations.
The order was given as part of a narcotics investigation in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the details being buried in the US Courts’ 2016 Wiretap Report. The endeavor cost $335,000 and was carried out over the course of two months. In total, the federal agents intercepted 3,292,385 cell phone calls or messages. The report doesn’t say how many suspects were involved.
But hey, at least they got some much-needed evidence, right? Maybe this massive amount of technical legwork would go towards making Pennsylvania a safer place. Yeah, about that…
Turns out none of the millions of conversations had enough incriminating dialogue to prompt a conviction. There were no incriminating intercepts, and the dozen arrests made have so far not led to trials or convictions.
Albert Gidari, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, told ZDNet this comes as no surprise, since “on average, a very very low percentage of conversations are incriminating, and a very very low percent results in conviction.” He also said, “I’d love to see the probable cause affidavit for that one.”
Hopefully those federal agents at least got to listen to some juicy gossip, since they’ll have nothing else to show for their efforts.