Positively Fourth Amendment: The Department Of Justice Wants In On Your Info, Anywhere

Thanks to a new initiative to amend the Constitutionally-sound rules regarding search and seizure, the United States Department of Justice seems to want to practice anything but.  Currently the D.O.J. is seeking  the authority to hack computers anywhere in the world...

This isn't cool and never will be, regardless of what the Department of "Justice" thinks.
(Image courtesy watchdog.org.)

In what appears to be a gross infringement attempt on privacy rights, the U.S. D.O.J. wants to watch your computer wherever it wants, worldwide.  According to techdirt.com, if the D.O.J. gets their way, magistrate judges could grant warrants to enable the capture of remote data, at any time for the past or future.  The computer searches, they claim, are technically legal.  All they want to do now is be able to rifle through your info regardless of where you hang your white, black, or grey hat.

The specific rule that the D.O.J. seeks to amend is Federal Criminal Procedure Rule 41, which would allow magistrate judges to issue warrants for data without knowing which district it is or was situated in.  This skirts dangerously close to violating the Constitution's 4th amendment concerning search and seizure practices, which offers safety against random and unspecific violations of your person, papers, and data.

You're being profiled in enough ways already.  Now the D.O.J. is just being lazy.
(Image courtesy arstechnica.com.)

The specific verbiage of the proposed amendment to Rule 41 can be found on page 338 of this document.

Google has championed against this idea, stating, "Although the proposed amendment disclaims association with any constitutional questions, it invariably expands the scope of law enforcement searches, weakens the Fourth Amendment's particularity and notice requirements, opens the door to potentially unreasonable searches and seizures, and expands the practice of covert entry warrants."

Google went on to list a number of judicial precedents that had been allowed to obtain the data via various methods the D.O.J. might implement, with one crucial fact included:  these were all granted thanks to acts of Congress.  Any further attempts to infringe on freedom should attempt the same route.  Amie Stepanovich, senior policy counsel with the Access digital freedom group, noted how this was only fair, stating, "...when you have us resorting to Congress to get increased privacy protections, we would also like to see the government turn to Congress to get increased surveillance authority."

This proposed amendment runs the inherent risk of not only massive abuses of extraterritorial power, but also to make such powers view anonymous or proxy-encrypted computers as suspicious and thus worthy of extra attention (or worse, infiltration.)  Honestly, it's probably already happening.  Retroactively, it's a good idea to make sure it's legally curtailed before it gets any worse.

You are not suspicious for staying anonymous.  They are suspicious for trying to out you.
(Image credit spectrum.ieee.org.)

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