Thanks To Months Of Doing Nothing, Senate Allows DOJ's Rule 41 Changes To
from the do-nothing-lawmakers-manage-to-accomplish-something dept
The amendments to Rule 41 are now law, thanks to Sen. John Cornyn, who
prevented bills opposing the immediate adoption of the changes from being
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Chris Coons (D-Del) took
to the floor and unsuccessfully asked for unanimous consent to either pass or
formally vote on three bills to delay or prevent updates to the process used by
law enforcement to get a warrant to hack suspects' computers.
“We simply can’t give unlimited power for unlimited hacking,” Daines argued.
But the bid to prevent the imminent changes to Rule 41 ended quickly. After
Wyden spoke, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) immediately objected to all
three bills, without waiting to hear from Coons and Daines.
But Cornyn alone can't be blamed for this outcome. A vast majority of senators
did nothing to prevent the proposed changes from becoming law -- even though
the decision has been in their hands since the Supreme Court's approval in
The FBI and others will be able to take advantage of the removal of
jurisdictional limits to search computers anywhere in the world using a single
warrant issued by a magistrate judge. It will also be granted the same power
for use in the disruption of botnets -- in essence, searches/seizures of
devices owned by US citizens suspected of no wrongdoing.
Cornyn, who prevented any debate over the "updates" to Rule 41, seems closely
aligned with the DOJ's views -- that these changes will have "little effect" on
civil liberties because the FBI, etc. "will still have to get a warrant."
Sure, warrants are still involved, but the scope of what can be accessed with a
single warrant has been expanded greatly. And the DOJ has yet to explain how
it's going to prevent law enforcement agencies from shopping around for the
most compliant magistrates, now that they're not required to perform searches
in the issuing court's jurisdiction. The DOJ also hasn't adequately explained
what sort of notification process it will use when performing its botnet
What it has done, however, is issue a statement saying the ends justify the
In an effort to address concerns, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie
Caldwell wrote a blog post this week arguing that the benefits given to
authorities from the rule changes outweighed any potential for "unintended
The DOJ wanted fewer restrictions, more power, and the opportunity to treat any
appearance of anonymization software as an excuse to deploy these newly-granted
powers. The Senate -- for the most part -- gave it everything it wanted by
doing nothing at all to stop it.
It's better to burn out than fade away.
Infowarrior mailing list