Sunday, December 4, 2016

Congress Gives FBI Power to Hack Computers of Millions of Americans

Congress just failed to block a change to a federal rule of criminal procedure granting the FBI power to hack into the personal computers of millions of Americans without obtaining a constitutionally sound warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment.

On November 30, a last-ditch effort by a bipartisan quartet of senators to stall the rule change that cleared the FBI’s access to personal computers failed in committee, thus the new language is in effect as of December 1.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) co-sponsored S. 3485, the Stalling Damaging Hacking Act of 2016 in a now abortive attempt to prevent the federal law enforcement agency from gaining immense and intrusive access to the personal computers of citizens of the United States.

“This rule change would give the government unprecedented authority to hack into Americans’ personal devices. This was an alarming proposition before the election,” Wyden said in a statement e-mailed to BuzzFeed News. “Today, Congress needs to think long and hard about whether to hand this power to [FBI Director] James Comey and the administration of someone who openly said he wants the power to hack his political opponents the same way Russia does.”

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