Bipartisan, Bicameral Coalition Aims to Stop Government Surveillance and Hacking
Today, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) along with Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Congresswoman Lofgren (D-CA), and Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA) introduced H.R. 1110, Stop Mass Hacking Act. This is the companion bill to legislation introduced on the Senate side by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Last year, the Department of Justice moved to make an administrative rule change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would give the government the ability to hack the computers of a massive amount of American citizens just by obtaining a single warrant. The change went into effect in December. The Stop Massive Hacking Act will repeal Rule 41.
“Government does not have the authority to unilaterally legalize widespread government hacking,” said Rep. Poe. “Americans have rights. It is Congress’ responsibility to safeguard the constitutional rights of the people they represent from a power hungry Executive Branch. As such, we are moving to repeal this change that condones hacking the property of the very people we are entrusted to protect.”
“I continue to stand by the Stop Mass Hacking Act because I am not yet convinced that last year’s changes to Rule 41 are wise or necessary,” said Rep. Conyers. “These changes are designed to streamline investigative techniques that allow law enforcement to gain unauthorized access and control to remote computer systems. Until Congress has had an opportunity to examine the effect of these techniques in the field—and until we have adequately addressed the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues—these changes should be rolled back.”
“When it comes to protecting the safety and security of American citizens, as well as respecting their Constitutional right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, we cannot make rushed decisions – the stakes are too high,” said Rep. Sensenbrenner. “Changes to Rule 41, at the very least, deserve Congressional review before going into effect.”
“Any rule which allows government agents to hijack devices owned by the victims of malware attacks without their permission, or even knowledge, deserves serious deliberation and debate in Congress,” said Rep. Lofgren. These are troubling activities, and the international, privacy, and security ramifications which may arise as a result are grave.”
“Just because technological advances have made it easier for the federal government to collect information doesn’t mean that our privacy rights can or should be violated,” said Rep. DelBene. “Congress has an obligation to weigh in before there are drastic changes to Rule 41 that could violate Americans’ constitutionally protected privacy rights.”