Despite efforts from both sides of the aisle to block a rule change giving broad hacking powers to law enforcement, the so-called Rule 41 goes into effect on Thursday.
Arguing that the rule change would jeopardize privacy rights, a group of senators attempted to delay the legislation. But, magistrate judges will now be allowed to issue warrants so that law enforcement can search suspects beyond the judge’s local jurisdiction. This is particularly necessary, legislators and government personnel argued, to enable searches in cases where anonymizing technology is used that disguises the geolocation of a computer, or when botnets are used to infect computers. U.S. judges can now sign off on search warrants giving the green light for the FBI to remotely access any computer worldwide.
Leading the charge to delay enactment of the rule, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called it “one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years” and said Rule 41 offers “unprecedented authority for the government to hack into Americans’ personal phones, their computers and their devices.”