Google, ACLU call to delay government hacking rule


A coalition of 26 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Google, signed a letter Monday asking lawmakers to delay a measure that would expand the government’s hacking authority. 

The letter asks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), plus House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to further review proposed changes to Rule 41 and delay its implementation until July 1, 2017. 

{mosads}The Department of Justice’s alterations to the rule would allow law enforcement to use a single warrant to hack multiple devices beyond the jurisdiction that the warrant was issued in. 

The FBI used such a tactic to apprehend users of the child pornography dark website, Playpen. It took control of the dark website for two weeks and after securing two warrants, installed malware on Playpen users computers to acquire their identities. 

But the signatories of the letter — which include advocacy groups, companies and trade associations — are raising questions about the effects of the change. 

“The consequences of this rule change are far from clear, and could be deleterious to security as well as to Fourth Amendment privacy rights,” the coalition wrote. “Government hacking, like wiretapping, can be much more privacy invasive than traditional searches.”

Robyn Greene, policy counsel and government affairs lead at New America’s Open Technology Institute, echoed that sentiment in a statement separate from the letter, which the group signed on to. 

“This rule change is far too complex and raises too many privacy and cybersecurity concerns for Congress to let the rule go into effect without conducting any oversight whatsoever.” 

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) have previously voiced their concerns and questioned the changes to Rule 41 which is set to go into effect on Dec. 1.

Tags Harry Reid Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Patrick Leahy Paul Ryan Ron Wyden Ted Poe

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