The FBI’s successful mass-hacking during “Operation Playpen” raised concerns over Rule 41. The Department of Justice proposed changes that would allow the FBI to hack thousands of computers—with one warrant. In reality, the FBI hacked 8,000 computers across the globe in Operation Playpen. The FBI routinely oversteps their boundaries but the upcoming changes would allow them to legally do so.
TechDirt pointed out that the first day of December would play into the DOJ’s hands. The changes would be “arriving between two major holidays when legislators have other things on their minds, including the annual Congressional fisticuffs over the federal budget.” This practice is often used to pass controversial laws and changes to laws. But a group of senators introduced another bill to impede the Rule 41 changes. Their bill, in their terms, does nothing.
In an article about TOR joining the fight against the proposal, one of our writers summed the changes up well:
The changes will enable the Department of Justice to hack computers and spy on people through one single warrant, no matter its jurisdiction. What this means is that if a judge issues a warrant in Washington, the government can conduct its search nationwide, on any and all computers it feels the need too.
The changes specifically state that computers that use technology to conceal its data, such as encryption, of tools like Tor, would fall into the range of the changes. This means all VPN users, Tor users, and any and all encryption and privacy software users will, be the most likely going to be spied on.
“The FBI will be permitted to hack into a person’s computer or phone remotely and to search through and remove their data. The FBI will be able to introduce malware into computers. It will create vulnerabilities that will leave users exposed,” The Tor Project said.
Sen. Ron Wyden has been a major voice in the effort to fight the DoJ. He introduced a bill earlier this year aimed at halting Rule 41 changes. The bill failed to make a difference, though. So, Wyden (along with Sens. Coons, Lee, Franken, and Daines) introduced another bill with similar intent. The bill is straightforward. This, literally, is the stated goal: “To delay the amendments to rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
If Wyden’s “Review the Rule” bill gets approved, representatives would have more time to discuss Rule 41. The default approval date would be pushed far into 2017. It would grant relevant officials another seven months to truly examine the proposal.