FBI’s ploy to amend the Law and Expand its Hacking Territory beyond US

The FBI is known for eavesdropping and implanting Spywares on internet users. The agency could soon be on a hacking spree following revelations by the National Journal that the agency through the US Department of Justices has been secretly pushing for an amendment that would expands its hacking territory.

In the clandestine mission, DOJ petitioned the Judiciary advisory Committee to amend rule 41 of the criminal rules of criminal procedures that specify the conditions under which the magistrate Judge can issue a search warrant.

Currently, magistrate judges are allowed to issue search warrant authorizing computer searches only within their jurisdiction districts. This implies the Feds cannot get a search warrant to search servers physically located outside America. If approved, the proposed law will empower a magistrate judge to “approve electronic surveillance to find and search a computer’s contents regardless of its physical location, even if the device is suspected of being abroad,” reported the National Journal.

Predictably, the proposed amendment did not sit well with privacy rights advocates who argue that the amendment contravenes the Fourth amendment that protects Americans’ against unfounded searches and seizures by government.

While expressing her frustration with the proposed amendment, Amie Stepanovich of the digital freedom group Access, told the Advisory committee that such an amend should be approved by the Congress and not through back door means as proposed by the government

“I empathize that it is very hard to get a legislative change,” she said. “However, when you have us resorting to Congress to get increased privacy protections, we would also like to see the government turn to Congress to get increased surveillance authority.”

Other security experts who voiced their concerns in the open hearing on the issue, warned that the proposed Law would open a flood gate for massive violation of privacy rights by government agencies. “If the proposed amendment is adopted, it will throw the doors wide open to an industry peddling tools to undermine computer security, and make the U.S. government an even bigger player in the surveillance software industry,” ACLU Staff Attorney Nathan Wessler wrote on Tuesday.

It is unsurprising the FBI are seeking more surveillance power months after tech giants Apple and Google, announced measure to encrypt their customer’s data in a bid lock out snoopy agencies. FBI director James Comey criticized the move saying it limited the ability of Law enforcers to investigate crimes. He said Americans should “have a good conversation” on the issue before it was too late but is now clear the FBI opted to have the good conversation with the Department of Justice rather than with US citizens.

If approved, the proposed amendment will turn tables on Microsoft in an ongoing tussle between the software giant and federal government following Microsoft’s refusal to turn over client’s email stored in its servers in Durban Ireland. In its defense Microsoft has consistently argued that the servers in Ireland are outside US jurisdiction and therefore not subject to US laws.

Top/Featured Image: By Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_Federal_Bureau_of_Investigation.png)

Lawrence Mwangi Lawrence is a technology and business reporter. He has freelanced for a number of tech sites and magazines. He is a web-enthusiast, with a special interest in Online security, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. When not writing about tech he can be found in a Tennis court or on a chess board.
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