Google Speaks Out Against Increasing Digital Search Warrant Powers

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On February 13th, 2015, Google issued a memorandum to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules in reference to a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Criminal code. According to Google Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security, Richard Salgado, the proposed amendment opens the door allowing the US Government to, “hack any facility in the world.”

As it stands, Rule 41 of the Federal Criminal Code governs the rules surrounding search and seizure. Currently, rule 41 reads: “a magistrate judge with authority in the district—or if none is reasonably available, a judge of a state court of record in the district—has authority to issue a warrant to search for and seize a person or property located within the district.” The key point of interest here being the wording, “within the district.” The Department of Justice, however, believes that in today’s world, where internet criminals often use anonymity software, like Tor, to conceal their true location, extending the scope of a warrant to include property outside the judge or magistrate’s district is a necessity. To summarize, the FBI wants the legal ability to hack computers suspected of crimes anywhere in the world, using warrants signed by a judge on American soil, even though the computer or server may be located at an unknown location or on foreign soil.

In defense of the proposed amendment, the Justice Department issued a statement assuring the public that in order to search remote computers, probable cause would still have to be generated and warrants still obtained. Organizations, like the ACLU, have come forward stating that the wording of the proposed amendment is vague and ‘draconian’. According to an ACLU spokesman, this proposed increase in digital search warrant powers has global implications and potentially violates the fourth amendment, which assures due process in the acquisition of search warrants by federal authorities.

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Google issued this memo coming out against the increase in digital search warrant powers, yet has an ‘open door policy’ with the government, in as far as sharing the private communications and information of its customers. As recently exposed by Julian Assange’s new book, Google and the US State Department have an intimate relationship. Why Google would ignore the privacy concerns of its users one day and then come out swinging against potential privacy violations is unknown. Perhaps they still want to appear to have genuine concerns about their users’ privacy.

The implications of extending the powers of digital search warrants are frightening. Fundamentally, no computer on the planet would be safe. If a judge agreed with the probable cause generated by the FBI, they could in actuality, legally hack any computer they could reach remotely, anywhere in the world. With the familiar CIA hacking scandals of late, the world is aware of and no longer understanding of the US governments global intrusions. This amendment would usurp the sovereignty of any nation in which a suspect computer may be located. The jurisdiction of any nation ends at its borders. If this amendment passes, there will be no border that the US government cannot cross in the name of ‘justice’.


Anonymous recommends: Protect your PC & mobile devices from hackers & governments & surf anonymously 

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SOURCES:

Rule 41. Search and Seizure | Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure | LII / Legal Information Institute (no date). Available at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/rule_41 (Accessed: 21 February 2015).

Pilkington, E. (2015) ‘Google warns of US government “hacking any facility” in the world’, The Guardian, 18 February. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/18/google-warns-government-hacking-committee-hearing (Accessed: 21 February 2015).

Rule 41 (no date). Available at: http://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?objectId=0900006481a0477d (Accessed: 21 February 2015).

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Leaving it up to a judge isn’t a particularly fool proof way of ensuring fair grounds for hacking/searching considering how many drug raids you hear about where people have been hurt only to find there was no meth lab etc etc – this will be abused in time, no doubt.

  2. The USA is the most paranoid nation on earth, it’s defense spending is as much as the next 20 nations combined most of whom are allies.

    America seems to think that someone is going to attack them at any moment so they think having a nation where there are more guns than people and an armed forces that have over 5,000 tanks (Russia has around 1,000) is the best way to defend itself.

  3. the amount of money training and one gun per american it would probably take ten to fifteen countries to undo the u.s reasreach some things before you say the poorest place on earth and the bankrupting russia could beat them is an estimate of your ignorance and the others

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