US Justice Department aims to ease rules on computer hacking to aid law enforcement
May 09, 2014 04:58 PM EDT
According to a proposal by the US Justice Department today, it is eyeing to ease up current rules on secretly hacking computers in bunches to aid investigators and not simply at one at a time. The Justice Department, who have made the proposal public for consideration by the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, said that it was an attempt to try to keep up with technology that currently allows people to kee their identities online a secret. Privacy advocates have long been fighting about the concerns on allowing authorities to have more aggressive hacking powers as they contend that they could violate the rights of the innocent, Bloomberg said.
The news agency said that announcement of such proposal was precipitous considering that the US government is still dealing with the backlash coming from its spying practices as revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year.
The proposal will eventually lift the geographical requirement on warrants for computer investigations, and will not allow agents to access computers remotely when locations have been hidden through technical means. Moreover, the proposal would also allow authorities to just issue a single warrant for searchers of certain computers located in multiple judicial districts.
Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said in an emailed statement, "This proposal ensures that courts can be asked to review warrant applications in situations where it is currently unclear what judge has that authority. The proposal makes explicit that it does not change the traditional rules governing probable cause and notice."
In a telephone interview, lawyer Nathan Freed Wessler with the American Civil Liberties Union said, "I don't think many Americans would be comfortable with the government sending code onto their computers without their knowledge or consent. The power they're seeking is certainly a broad one."
Lawyer Hanni Fakhoury at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group, echoed concerns by the many about authorities having more than enough power. He said to the news agency, "We have real concerns about allowing the police too much ability to search with too little oversight. (The DOJ proposal would) dramatically expand the reach of federal prosecutors and investigators."