Privacy Groups Including OTI Unite to Oppose Expansion of Government Hacking Authority

article | November 05, 2014

Today at 9 AM in Washington DC, the Open Technology Institute’s Policy Director Kevin Bankston will be testifying at a hearing before the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules, along with representatives from allied organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Access, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Center for Democracy & Technology, and more.

What has brought all of these groups together this morning? Their shared opposition to a proposed amendment to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, the rule that governs the issuance of search warrants in criminal investigations. That proposed amendment — details of which you can find at pages 338-342 of this document — would for the first time explicitly authorize the government to engage in "remote access" searches of electronic storage media. That’s basically a euphemism for "government hacking into computers and smartphones using malware that will then be used by police to secretly search for and retrieve data from the machines they’ve compromised."

If you want to know why we're all so concerned about that, take a look at OTI’s testimony, and visit the docket for the proposed amendment to see our allies’ written testimony covering a wide variety of objections to this worrisome proposal. We also recommend taking a look at yesterday's great ACLU blog post previewing this morning's hearing, and hope you’ll stay tuned for more updates from OTI as this issue continues to heat up.