Rule 41 — The FBI Just Got Unlimited Power To Hack Any Computer In The World


Short Bytes: As a result of the implementation of the proposed Rule 41 changes, the FBI has got expanded hacking powers. Now, the FBI can hack any computer in the world just by obtaining a single warrant authorized by any US judge. The government has cited the “real and ongoing” threats as the cause of these rule changes.

Earlier this year, we told you about the proposed changes to the Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of the Criminal Procedure. These changes were supposed to empower the government agencies to get ‘universal’ warrants from federal judges to hack computers.

Until the end of November, Congress had the chance to pass a bill to regress the changes that were supposed to be implemented on December 1. Well, despite the endless ramblings and half-hearted efforts of Congress, the government has finally got expanded hacking powers.

On Wednesday, Senator Ron Wyden tried 3 three times to delay the rule changes. “By sitting here and doing nothing, the Senate has given consent to this expansion of government hacking and surveillance,” he said.

While the older version of Rule 41 made sure that FBI had to go to the right jurisdiction to grab a hacking warrant, the newer version lets a federal judge approve a single warrant for accessing multiple computers–even if the users belong to abroad locations or they’re innocent.

The civil and digital rights advocates have repeatedly questioned this unlimited increase in power. Notably, the recent updates to Rule 41 have been backed by the Justice Department. To know about more dangerous implications of Rule 41, you can read our older post.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell has argued that the possibility of any misuse of these expanded powers outweigh the “real and ongoing threats perpetrated by criminals,” Reuters reports.

Have something to add to this story on Rule 41? Share your views in the comments section.

Also Read: Our whole coverage on Rule 41

Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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