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It seems every time there’s a bit of good news, it’s soon followed with some bad. On May 3rd we reported that the House passed a new law stating that the government needs a warrant to access emails and cloud storage. Now reports are surfacing that claim the US Supreme Court is allowing the FBI to hack any computer in the world with a single search warrant authorized by any US judge.
According to The Hacker News:
The US Supreme Court has approved amendments to Rule 41, which now gives judges the authority to issue search warrants, not only for computers located in their jurisdiction but also outside their jurisdiction.
The proposal to change Rule 41 has already been approved by the Supreme Court, and will go into effect in December, despite opposition from technology giants and civil liberties groups. It’s believed the changes made would expand the FBI’s power to conduct mass hacks, and the ACLU has expressed concerns that it could break the American Constitution’s protections against inappropriate search and seizures.
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department is describing the change as a small modification intended to “modernize” the criminal code for the digital age, and they claim the changes wouldn’t permit searches that aren’t already legal, leaving many to wonder what the point of it is. Currently under Rule 41, magistrate judges are not allowed to approve search warrants to hack or access computers outside of their jurisdiction, but that will change in December if Congress doesn’t reject the proposed change or make corrections until then.
The Hacker News also reported that with the change, citizens can now be hacked by the FBI if their location is unknown, or if they are using anonymity software like TOR. More than a million people use TOR anonymity software to hide their identities for legitimate reasons, and can now become potential targets.
Updates on this story are sure to follow in December.
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