Senators seek to block expansion of FBI's mass hacking powers

The ten-line bill aims to stop the Supreme Court's rule change from taking effect.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

A group of bipartisan senators have introduced new legislation seeking to block a rule change, which critics argued would allow the FBI to conduct mass hacking of any computer in the world.


(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the ten-line bill on Thursday with the aim of blocking a recent decision by the Supreme Court's, which would allow the US judges to issue warrants outside their jurisdiction.

The draft bill simply says that the rule change "shall not take effect."

The legislation is sponsored by three other senators.

The change will allow the FBI to conduct network investigative techniques (NITs) -- another term for hacking carried out by law enforcement -- to remotely search computers located anywhere in the world.

But Wyden said in a statement.that the changes "would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack an unlimited number of Americans' computers if their computers had been affected by criminals, possibly without notifying the victims."

A companion bill is expected to be introduced into the House soon, said the statement.

Under the existing so-called "rule 41," magistrates can only issue warrants in their district. The Supreme Court last month change the rules allowing the expansion of jurisdiction.

Civil liberties campaigners previously argued that would allow the FBI to conduct remote access operations on any computer.

Google have objected to the change in 2015 when it was first proposed, arguing that the rule change was "better addressed by Congress."

Unless Congress passes a bill reversing or stalling the Supreme Court's decision, the rule change will go into effect on December 1.

Editorial standards