U.S. Supreme Court Grants FBI Massive Expansion of Ability to Hack Into Suspect’s Computers

fbi-expansion-to-hack-computers

The US Congress has seven months to block a potentially massive expansion of the government’s ability to hack into suspects’ computers.

At the FBI’s request this week, the supreme court ruled that federal judges should be able to issue hacking warrants to federal law enforcement for anywhere in the US if the suspect has tried to hide their location, as criminal suspects are wont to do.

Additionally, the FBI could get authority to infiltrate any computer – regardless of the owner – if it has already been taken over by bad hackers.

The changes to so-called “rule 41” go into effect 1 December unless Congress acts to block them. The move has set up a showdown with Senator Ron Wyden, the most senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, who is marshaling the opposition on Capitol Hill. He told the Guardian on Friday that he plans to introduce a bill blocking the court’s move.

The debate offers a unique window into the struggle to maintain America’s protections against unreasonable searches in the digital age.

Many of the rules were written for a world based on searching physical spaces, like a desk, and at distinct locations, like an office. Such rules often don’t adapt well to the era of the internet and ubiquitous online services, where it is also possible to, in theory, search millions of computers at the same time.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Danny Yadron