US Law Change Allows Police to Search PCs of VPN, Tor & Malware-Infected Users
May 3, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

US Law Change Allows Police to Search PCs of VPN, Tor & Malware-Infected Users

The US Supreme Court has given the thumbs up to an amendment from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States, which contains updates to criminal procedures that allow law enforcement to go after Tor and VPN users.

The amendment is nothing more than an update to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, but with a broader scope that allows law enforcement agencies to engage in surveillance and even the hacking of US citizens and the citizens of other countries.

New Rule 41 can allow law enforcement to go after Tor, VPN users

According to privacy advocates at the EFF, US judges across the country could use the new Rule 41 to issue warrants that grants police the right to hack, search, or seize their computers if law enforcement suspects they may be engaged in “concealed” traffic.

The amendment does not go into technical details, but any user with the basic knowledge of Web technologies will know this refers to any tools to mask the user’s data.

This list includes technologies like Tor, VPNs, or anything else where encryption is used to keep prying eyes away, even for good reasons.

Hiding your location online can get you on the “naughty list”

EFF’s representatives imply that law enforcement may even target users who deny sharing geolocation data via their browsers or those who advertise false location settings via their Twitter profiles. In legal terms, this can pass as concealment.

A big part of the Rule 41 amendment is also dedicated to users who suffered malware infections that have enslaved their PCs in botnets. Judges are allowed to issue warrants for hacking, searching or seizing computers infected by such malware under the reasoning that this PC is part of a criminal group’s operation.

Despite being a US law, the amendment gives US judges the same power over all computers anywhere on the planet, in a brazen and shameless violation of international law and the right of countries to govern themselves.

Rule 41 was not concocted by US politicians

The amendment to Rule 41 has been forwarded to the US Congress. According to US law procedures, Congress must disavow the amendment and its content by December 1, 2016, or it will become the de-facto official version of Rule 41 across the US.

“The change to Rule 41 isn’t merely a procedural update. It significantly expands the hacking capabilities of the United States government without any discussion or public debate by elected officials,” EFF’s Rrainey Reitman wrote.

“If members of the intelligence community believe these tools are necessary to advancing their investigations, then this is not the path forward. Only elected members of Congress should be writing laws, and they should be doing so in a matter that considers the privacy, security, and civil liberties of people impacted,” he also added.

Source | SoftPedia