Senators seek to block expanded hacking powers for FBI

The Justice Department says greater authority is necessary to pursue anonymous criminals, but some senators oppose what they say is an encroachment on Americans' digital rights.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Sens. Rand Paul (left) and Ron Wyden have introduced legislation to reverse a Supreme Court decision that would allow U.S. judges to issue search warrants for computers outside their jurisdictions.

A bipartisan pair of senators has introduced a bill to block an expansion of the FBI's hacking powers that the Supreme Court approved last month.

Privacy hawks Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the Stopping Mass Hacking Act on May 19, which they say would prevent a dramatic attack on Americans' digital rights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that advocates online privacy, applauded the bill.

The court-approved rule change would allow U.S. judges to issue search warrants for computers outside their jurisdictions. Congress has until Dec. 1 to reverse the decision before it takes effect. The one-page Wyden-Paul bill would do that -- and only that.

The Justice Department has long sought the rule change, arguing that such "remote searches" are often the only way to unmask sophisticated online criminals. But IT security experts interviewed by FCW expressed concern that the rule change could make average internet users less safe. Justice officials counter that the amendment does not change the rules governing probable cause and notice.

"Such a substantive change with an enormous impact on Americans' constitutional rights should be debated by Congress, not maneuvered through an obscure bureaucratic process," Wyden said in a statement.

The bill's other sponsors are Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

"Congress must act to prevent this threat to the privacy of law-abiding Americans and ensure a rule change of this magnitude has the proper oversight," Baldwin said in a statement.

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, hinted at support for a companion bill in the House, which Wyden's office said is coming soon.

"Many in the House, both Democrats and Republicans, remain concerned about the investigatory techniques at the heart of this discussion," Conyers said in a statement. "We will continue to study the issue, and when appropriate, we hope to join Senator Wyden in his call to block the change."

A Justice spokesperson declined to comment on the bill but countered Wyden's assertion that the amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, as the rule change is known, was made through an "obscure bureaucratic process."

The change was made after substantive public comments and testimony, a Justice statement said, adding that the amendment "would make clear that where the suspect has hidden the location of his computer using technological means, agents know which judge to [approach] to apply for a warrant."

The statement also said the amendment would make it easier for the government to take down botnets, which are hijacked computers that wreak havoc on the internet and are a hot topic in Washington right now.

"This rule change would permit agents to go to one federal judge rather than submit separate warrant applications to each of the 94 federal districts" to combat botnets, the statement said. "That duplication of effort makes no sense."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.