SCOTUS Approves New Rules for FBI Hacking and Legislates New Law

In 2014, Joseph Hall explained why this could be an issue. “The US Department of Justice is seeking to drastically expand its abilities to search computers remotely through an obscure change in the rules of criminal procedure. This would have the effect of making it easier for law enforcement to remotely break into and search computers worldwide when the computer’s location is concealed. This change is highly dangerous in that it will essentially allow law enforcement to hack into hundreds of millions of computers all over the world. This kind of expansion of power should not be happening in an obscure forum – The Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – but in open debate and consideration in Congress. Yesterday, I testified before the Advisory Committee, having worked with CDT’s Senior Counsel Harley Geiger on our written testimony.”

This was approved the other day by the Roberts Court changing Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In the past, a Federal judge in each district would have to approve a warrant to search a computer, telephone, etc. With this change, a warrant just has to be issued by a Federal judge or magistrate and the FBI then has carte blanc to search globally any number of computers technologically concealed, hijacked, or damaged for the same issue. Other courts can not longer reject the one court’s warrant (unless appealed to a higher court).

“Chief Justice John Roberts submitted the rule to Congress on behalf of the Court as part of the justices’ annual package of changes to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The rules form the basis of every federal prosecution in the United States.” It was the court’s decision to decide within the district it resided in and other districts could reject or decide for another district’s decision. The change in Rule 41 by SCOTUS gives a district court the ability to allow the FBI to investigate globally without revealing the location. Why Roberts believes in this expanded power and another attack on the 4th Amendment is . . . ?

Hat Tip to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, CDT “US DOJ Seeks to Search and Seize Data on Computers Worldwide”. Congress still has the power to change the rule with Legislation and advocate for less or no intrusion into 4th Amendment protected privacy. Doubtful it will the same as it failed to stop Usury or Loan Sharking in 1978.