In the wake of the FBI not being able to force Apple to weaken the security of an iPhone related to a criminal case, the Supreme Court in the U.S. has ruled that judges can give the federal agency the power to access any computer they want, regardless of jurisdiction. Pro-privacy groups argue that this will just lead to more device hacking and a weakening of security for customers.
This new legislation would give magistrate judges, which normally only have jurisdiction over a few local counties, the ability to issue search warrants for any computer in any jurisdiction. The concern is that if the FBI finds a judge that looks favourably upon its actions, it wouldn’t need local support to gain a search warrant for electronic devices.
The new ruling won’t come into effect until Congress gives it approval through inaction. It has until the 1st December to raise any concerns it might have, but if there are none or it does nothing, the measure will come into play automatically.
If they do end up not taking action though, they’ll need to do so while ignoring the pleas of civil liberties groups and companies like Google, which have warned that the change would give the FBI far too great a power to hack any device it wants. They are also concerned that the legislation could breach protections against unreasonable search and seizures (as per Reuters).
Democratic Senator Rob Wyden is also opposing the bill, promising to introduce legislation to combat it if Congress doesn’t prevent its implementation. His concerns are that it will allow for hacking on a large scale, potentially giving the FBI the go ahead to hack thousands of computers at once, many of which “will belong to the victims, not the perpetrators of a cybercrime” he said.
He may well need to as well, as Congress doesn’t have much of a history of blocking Supreme Court decisions and considering it’s an election year, they may not be too keen to rock the boat.
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KitGuru Says: I hope the Edward Snowden movie can help more people understand how dangerous this sort of authority oversight is. I doubt it, but a boy can dream.