Data obtained by The Wall Street Journal suggests that "electronic-surveillance orders have increased over the past decade and that the vast majority remain sealed."
Thousands of government requests for electronic surveillance in connection with criminal investigations remain under seal long after the investiga tions have ended, Jennifer Valentino-Devries of The Wall Street Journal reports.
The practice is unlike nearly all other aspects of American judicial proceedings, where courts have held that search warrants eventually should be made public.
The thing is that getting permission for electronic surveillance techniques — including tracking metadata and gathering all cellphones connected to a cell tower — is easier than getting a search or wiretap warrant.
The Obama administration has argued in court that cellphone customers "have no privacy interest" in their location data.
Further, most of the cases in question do not involve national-security matters — which led the National Security Agency to gather phone data on millions of Americans — but use many of the same surveillance methods.