On December 1, 2016 new laws will officially go into effect which will allow the FBI to investigate/search the personal devices of potentially millions of people, under a single blanket warrant – something law enforcement or the Government has never been able to do before.
What is Rule 41?
Incredibly long and complicated story short, Rule 41 allows the FBI to legally “hack” into an “indefinite” number of devices – be it phone, computer, tablet – using a “singular” warrant. To give you an example, say the FBI gets a warrant to search http://altmedi4.com – normally this warrant would encompass myself: Brian Dunn – Founder of Alternative Medi4.
Even though my website would technically be under “criminal investigation by the FBI,” this does not necessarily mean I will ever be charged with any crime. As you might expect, as the FBI carries out their investigation, naturally they will see all of the people whom visit and/or interact with my site. If for whatever reason the FBI deemed anyone of these peole “suspicious” and worthy of further investigation, under our current laws, the FBI would have to apply for a separate warrant and if approved, the investigation process would start over again.
However, if the FBI found someone suspicious on my site and decided to “target” them – id est – hack into the IP address of that person from my site, without getting a separate warrant to do so, this would be illegal. In fact, in 2016 Trial law, multiple judges have now ruled this practice “unconstitutional.”
The FBI got a warrant for its mass hacking, but it was an unconstitutional general warrant. https://t.co/uhdJMT4kMW
— EFF (@EFF) September 28, 2016
Read One of These Judges Official Dissertations: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2806358-16-4-20-Order-Motion-to-Suppress.html
For what I hope are very blatant reasons for you now to see, this has created a lot “confusion” of sorts within law enforcement agencies – such as the FBI. There might be a bad guy out there everyone wants in jail and the FBI wants to put them in jail as fast as possible, but it can be such a hassle to follow the letter of the law and take the time to get separate warrants to “legally” hack different people – right?
According to a report by Jenna McLaughlin of The Intercept, the ‘official lawyer of the FBI’ said that upholding these practices, particularly in regard to requiring individual warrant requests for individual people in the digital world, would be “crippling” to the agency.
Under the third party doctrine, data voluntarily given to a company can be handed over to police without a warrant. https://t.co/SQm7ZQoAdg
— The Intercept (@theintercept) November 17, 2016
Read More: The FBI Budget FY 2016 – $8.48 billion
The lawyer goes on to explain how these types of requirements would cause “uncertainty and confusion” for the FBI as they conducted their “investigations” – meaning it would require too much extra time, money, budget and human resources to go through the whole process and ‘red tape’ to get warrants for every person on the internet – there are billions of people on there, after all.
On December 1st, the FBI will no longer have to worry about being confused over how to property “execute” and/or practice “the law.” The FBI, of course, is a member of the Executive Branch of Government.
In just a weeks time, if the FBI gets a warrant to search http://altmedi4.com, every person reading this article or that has ever interacted with this site can legally be subjected to a criminal investigation at the hands of the FBI – based off the original warrant for my site.
How does that make you feel?
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 21, 2016
To put this in perspective for you to understand, a single warrant for http://altmedi4.com would encompass over 1,000 readers through WordPress.com and over 16,000 people on Facebook.com – of various people/ethnicity’s around the world. This warrant would also apply to any ‘unfortunate chap’ who happens to stumble upon my site by means of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while the FBI is conducting this investigation.
I am just a small time publisher who ‘moonlights’ in my free time mind you, just think about any website with more notoriety and larger digital footprint than myself. For example, what if the FBI got a warrant for www.nytimes.com? This one warrant could effect the technological devices of millions to tens of millions of innocent people, not just in the United States but around the world.
Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation “generally do not have authority” on “foreign soil” – id est – jurisdiction outside US borders: https://www.fbi.gov/about/faqs – but there is no “foreign soil” on the internet and cyber space – is there?
If you think this is fear mongering you are mistaken, this law is being changed right now because the FBI has already carried out these sorts of hacks in the past. Mass hacking can be thought of as a new version of “Government Mass Surveillance.”
— The Hacker News (@TheHackersNews) November 24, 2016
In short summary, the headline here is that the FBI (Executive Branch) worked with Congress (Legislative Branch) to change the laws as they were previously written (Rule 41) because federal courts (Judicial Branch) were ruling it was illegal for the FBI to be performing the actions they were.
The changes to Rule 41 do not make it any more “moral” for the FBI to be doing the same exact things they were already doing, it just removes any ethical/legal grey area that may have been blocking or holding them back.
Changing these laws are highly controversial because Congress is making the conscious decision to stripe away citizens rights and ignore the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, solely for the FBI’s legal benefit. Not only this, but it appears to ignore the fundamental core construct of “separate but co-equal branches of Government” and a system of “Checks and Balances.”
As members of one of these separate branches of government, the Executive Branch, the FBI is tasked with “executing” the law. The FBI’s job is not to “interpret” the law, that is the job tasked to the “Judicial Branch of Government,” and the FBI’s job is not to edit laws as they see fit, that is the job tasked to the “Legislative Branch of Government.”
Dating back to June 2016, there have been multiple attempts to #StopRule41, but all attempts have failed. Although there remain several high ranking officials in our government whom publicly disapprove of the changes to Rule 41, there appears to be no stopping it – changes to Rule 41 will officially be going into effect in less than a weeks time, no matter how badly anyone may feel about it.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 22, 2016
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 22, 2016
This Content Was Created Under An Alt_Publishers License