Increasingly in America when secret police agencies, like the NSA or CIA, don't like a law they simply have it changed to 'keep it legal'. Now the FBI is joining the party as on Friday the Department of Justice proposed a rule change makes it vastly easier for FBI agents to obtain warrants to hack a computer from basically anywhere in the world.
Its the latest step in the battle of big police, secret police and big corporations versus our constitutionally granted privacy privacy rights.
But never fear citizens, this new measure is just to stop terrorists and pedophiles. It couldn't possibly be abused or impinge your hard-won constitutional rights.
And yet it will most definitely erode our rights, to the point of them not existing.
In traditional policing matters federal search warrants are only valid within the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials must demonstrate probable cause, find the right jurisdiction to ask for a warrant, and notify the person they’re planning on searching.
The notify part is a cornerstone of our Fourth Amendment privacy rights. As in its in the constitution.
In a few rare cases, the FBI have been granted permission to legally conduct remote computer searches, outside of the judge’s jurisdiction.
To make it make life easier for FBI agents the DoJ would now like to expand that power.
But this lazy and highly invasive change amounts to throwing out the Fourth Amendment.
In addition to the rule change permitting FBI agents to spy on any suspect’s computer anywhere, it will also make it totally acceptable to search our computers without ever telling us.
The end result will one, tiny group of judge's in say, D.C., authorizing complete and total spying on anyone, anywhere in America.
What could possibly go wrong...
The tech community, who understands the issues far better than most groups in the country, is universally disgusted by the proposed changes.
Google lawyer Richard Salgado summed it up best in a recent blog post:
The proposed change threatens to undermine the privacy rights and computer security of Internet users. For example, the change would excuse territorial limits on the use of warrants to conduct “remote access” searches where the physical location of the media is “concealed through technological means.” The proposed change does not define what a “remote search” is or under what circumstances and conditions a remote search can be undertaken; it merely assumes such searches, whatever they may be, are constitutional and otherwise legal. It carries with it the specter of government hacking without any Congressional debate or democratic policymaking process.
The proposed rule must be approved later this year by the Judicial Conference, and then by the Supreme Court.
It will likely clear both those hurdles, as the DOJ makes laws these days, and only a Congressional intervention could save it from becoming law.
Given Congresses love of spying and large police forces this seems almost certain.
The result is that by December 2016 a small set of judges in D.C. will now be rubber stamping the FBI to go on a hacking spree across the nation and around the world.
That should deeply scare any American citizen.
We advise speaking loudly and openly about this issue to your elected officials as they're our only hope for preventing the Fourth Amendment from becoming extinct.