Later On

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FBI’s Plan to Expand Hacking Power Advances Despite Privacy Fears

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So it goes: the government pries more into our lives and it shuts down our knowledge of what it’s doing. Dustin Volz reports in National Journal:

A judicial advisory panel Monday quietly approved a rule change that will broaden the FBI’s hacking authority despite fears raised by Google that the amended language represents a “monumental” constitutional concern.

The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules voted 11-1 to modify an arcane federal rule to allow judges more flexibility in how they approve search warrants for electronic data, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

(RELATED: Republicans Have Less Faith in the NSA than Democrats)

Known as Rule 41, the existing provision generally allows judges to approve search warrants only for material within the geographic bounds of their judicial district.

But the rule change, as requested by the department, would allow judges to grant warrants for remote searches of computers located outside their district or when the location is unknown.

The government has defended the maneuver as a necessary update of protocol intended to modernize criminal procedure to address the increasingly complex digital realities of the 21st century. The FBI wants the expanded authority, which would allow it to more easily infiltrate computer networks to install malicious tracking software. This way, investigators can better monitor suspected criminals who use technology to conceal their identity.

But the plan has been widely opposed by privacy advocates, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as some technologists, who say it amounts to a substantial rewriting of the rule and not just a procedural tweak. Such a change could threaten the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizures, they warn, and possibly allow the FBI to violate the sovereignty of foreign nations. The rule change also could let the agency simultaneously target millions of computers at once, even potentially those belonging to users who aren’t suspected of any wrongdoing.

(RELATED: The CIA Is Trying to Hack Your iPhone)

Google weighed in last month with public comments that warned that the tweak “raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide.”

In an unusual move, Justice Department lawyers rebutted Google’s concerns, saying the search giant was misreading the proposal and that it would not result in any search or seizures not “already permitted under current law.”

The judicial advisory committee’s vote is only the first of several stamps of approval required within the federal judicial branch before the the rule change can formally take place—a process that will likely take over a year. The proposal is now subject to review by the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which normally can approve amendments at its June meeting. The Judicial Conference is next in line to approve the rule, a move that would likely occur in September. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2015 at 2:23 pm

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Brian By Experience.

    Like

    Brian Dead Rift Webb

    19 March 2015 at 6:47 pm


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