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NSW Police are the nation’s most enthusiastic snoopers on private conversations and computer sessions, applying for 1282 “telecommunications interception warrants” in the year to June 30, Attorney General Robert McClelland has revealed.

NSW Police are the nation’s most enthusiastic snoopers on private conversations and computer sessions, applying for 1282 “telecommunications interception warrants” in the year to June 30, Attorney General Robert McClelland has revealed.

By contrast the much troubled Victoria Police applied for only 317 warrants, WA coppers sought 232 and Queensland Police sought, and got, 177. The Australian Federal Police applied for, and got, permission for 523 interceptions.

McClelland revealed the figures in releasing the 2010-11 annual reports for the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act and the Surveillance Devices Act. In all they showed 16 agencies across the nation sought a total of 3495 warrants to listen in; all but seven were granted.

The interceptions led to 2441 arrests, 3155 prosecutions, and 2022 convictions.

Alas, it turns out snooping ain’t cheap. Total cost of the running the interceptions was $50.46 million, up from $46.3 million in the previous year, the reports show. The AFP was the biggest spender at $9.5 million

The Surveillance Devices Act doesn’t just cover snooping on phone calls. It also covers surveillance devices for tracking computer input or output; optical surveillance devices (presumably videocams, but maybe also binoculars); and electronic tracking devices “capable of determining or monitoring the location of a person or an object”.

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