Proposal to Massively Expand FBI’s Legal Hacking Abilities Moves Forward
Oh, good. A Department of Justice-proposed rule change that would make it way easier for FBI agents to obtain warrants to hack a computer from basically anywhere was just approved by a US Court committee.
Which is to say, we’re one step closer to having our digital privacy rights eviscerated in the name of federal investigations.
In the old world, federal search warrants are typically only valid within the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials needs to demonstrate probable cause, find the right jurisdiction to petition for a warrant, and notify the person they’re planning on searching. (That last bit is a cornerstone of our Fourth Amendment privacy rights.)
In rare cases, the Feds have gotten permission to legally conduct remote computer searches, outside of the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. To make it easier for the FBI to conduct these sorts of remote hacks and track down criminals who use anonymizing software, the DoJ would now like to expand that power.
Unfortunately, the latest bright idea for doing so amounts to a massive shit all over the Fourth Amendment. Not only would the rule change permit judges to authorize FBI agents to surveil and exfiltrate any suspect’s computer anywhere, the vague language of the rules might make it totally acceptable in certain cases to search our computers without ever telling us.