30,000 secret surveillance orders approved each year, US judge estimates
Posted in: Censorship at 06/06/2012 14:29
A federal judge estimates that his fellow federal judges issue a total of 30,000 secret electronic surveillance orders each year -- and the number is probably growing. Though such orders have judicial oversight, few emerge from any sort of adversarial proceeding and many are never unsealed at all. Those innocent of any crime are unlikely to know they have ever been the target of an electronic search.
In a new paper, called "Gagged, Sealed & Delivered", US Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith bashes this culture of continuing secrecy. (Magistrate judges are important members of the federal judiciary; they handle many of the more routine judicial matters, such as warrant applications and initial case management.) In his work as a judge, Smith has become dismayed by the huge number of electronic surveillance orders he sees and by the secrecy that accompanies them.