- A new rule set to sharply increase the hacking authority of the FBI will go into effect Thursday unless Congress makes a last-minute effort to challenge it.
- Called rule 41, the move would let U.S. judges issue warrants outside their court jurisdiction, something that is usually not possible under current rules. Part of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the new provision came at the behest of the Supreme Court to make the cases that span multiple districts easier to try, such as cases that involve cyber and computers.
- Some senators, however, are trying to stop the new rule. Scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, the Stopping Mass Hacking Act, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, rejects the amendment to rule 41.
If it goes through, the proposed rule would change how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies can investigate cases. Warrants issued by federal judges would allow authorities to search computers and seize electronic files remotely, whether or not they were in the judge's district.
Legislation has continued to lag behind advancements in technology and now enforcement authorities are scrambling to keep up. Cyber-related cases often cross jurisdictions, making it difficult for law enforcement to effectively investigate. But some are concerned about the potential privacy infringements if such a rule were to go into effect. Wyden, in addition to Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE, are "deeply disappointed" about how the Justice Department has not answered lingering questions about the rule and its implications.
The rule has the potential to impact both consumer and enterprise security, so opponents are asking for clarification, particularly as the current state of surveillance is changing globally. For example, Tuesday the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II signed off on the Investigatory Powers Act, which creates a new legal framework for surveillance, including requirements to help with surveillance and for government allowed hacking.