Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to changes to Rule 41 that will allow a judge in any jurisdiction to issue a search warrant for a suspect’s computer, whether or not that machine is believed to be within the judge’s jurisdiction. Opponents argued the changes would give the FBI nearly unlimited power to access any computer remotely. And the bill’s authors in the Senate — Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Rand Paul — also believe the Justice Department is dangerously close to overstepping its constitutional bounds.
“This is a dramatic expansion of the government’s hacking and surveillance authority,” Wyden said in a statement. “Such a substantive change with an enormous impact on Americans’ constitutional rights should be debated by Congress, not maneuvered through an obscure bureaucratic process.”
According to Reuters, there’s a similar bill in the works in the House of Representatives as well, but if Congress fails to act on the DOJ’s proposed changes by December 1st, they will take effect either way. In the meantime, everyone from civil liberties groups to Google have promised to fight the changes.
The controversy over the FBI’s “network investigative techniques, began, it should be noted, after the agency hacked a dark web child pornography site in February 2015. One defendant in that case successfully argued that the search warrant issued for his computer was invalid because it was issued “without jurisdiction.”