The deadline is December 1. If Congress fails to act, the FBI gains the power to hack and surveil an unlimited number of computers, based on just one warrant from any federal judge. “Rule 41” marks a new line drawn in the cybersecurity-privacy battle.
Changes to Rule 41, however, will remove the limits on how the FBI can obtain search warrants for computer networks. As of now, a federal judge may authorize the feds to install malware to hack computers suspected to be involved in criminal activity. That judge may only issue the warrant when the device is in his or her jurisdiction, though. That barrier is scheduled to be lifted December 1, unless Congress prevents it.
It means it will be legal for the government to “hack anyone,” as Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) puts it in an op-ed article he helped write for Wired magazine Wednesday.
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