Unless Congress takes action within the next 30 days, the FBI will almost certainly be granted sweeping new authority to broaden its spying.
That’s because Rule 41, a new edict proposed by the Supreme Court, grants U.S. judges the right to sign off on warrants outside their jurisdiction, according to ZDNet.
Whereas judges previously could only provide orders within their own locale (usually spread over a few districts), the new rule would apply to a wider dragnet, even across countries. The intention is to more effectively prosecute cybercrimes which, of course, could originate and spread beyond one particular jurisdiction.
The argument from privacy advocates, however, is that Rule 41 would allow the FBI to expand its surveillance capabilities. All an FBI agent would need do is to get a judge’s signature on a search warrant to put into play the agency’s network investigative techniques – or NITs – which allow them to hack into and monitor any computer or device on the globe.
The rule change automatically becomes law on December 1, unless Congress alters the proposed bill to say the proposed change “shall not take effect.” With distractions from the upcoming election, and the usual partisan bickering and stalemates, the bill has not yet made it to committee. Hopes for it making it to the floor in time for a vote to become law are waning.