Tor Slams Mass Hacking Amendments

Tor Slams Mass Hacking Amendments

The Tor Project has slammed proposed US legislation that would allow the FBI greater capabilities to hack computers and conduct surveillance on electronic media that is “concealed through technological means." 

The amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are taking effect Dec. 1 barring a Congressional injunction. They grant judges the right to issue a single search warrant to cover the activities, regardless of where the devices are located.

“The broad search warrants allowable under these new rules will apply to people using Tor in any country—even if they are journalists, members of a legislature or human rights activists,” the company said in its public plea. “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.”

Tor isn’t alone in its concerns. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced the Stop Mass Hacking Act (S. 2952, H.R. 5321), which has bipartisan support. It is composed of a single sentence: "To prevent the proposed amendments to rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure from taking effect."

“If the Senate does nothing, if the Senate fails to act, what’s ahead for Americans is a massive expansion of government hacking and surveillance powers,” Wyden said last week on the Senate floor.

“We are at a critical point in the United States regarding surveillance law. Some public officials, like those at the US Department of Justice understand very well how surveillance technology works and the implications of the Rule 41 changes,” Tor said. “But the judges who must approve these warrants under the new rules vary widely in their technical expertise and understanding of how these decisions affect the larger Constitutional issues of search and seizure. Rule 41 will allow savvy law enforcement officials to seek those judges who don't yet understand the tech.”

“The FBI will be permitted to hack into a person’s computer or phone remotely and to search through and remove their data,” the Tor Project said. “The FBI will be able to introduce malware into computers. It will create vulnerabilities that will leave users exposed.”

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Source: Information Security Magazine