FBI Seeks Even Broader Surveillance Power From Judicial Advisory Committee

BY Heather Greenfield
November 4, 2014

Washington – The FBI’s request to significantly expand the government’s power to remotely search stored electronic data is the subject of a hearing before the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts Wednesday morning. Currently constitutional protections require that the FBI get a warrant signed by a judge who presides in the particular jurisdiction for a specific, limited search when criminal activity is suspected on a computer.

In it’s proposed change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the FBI is asking for broad new powers to investigate multiple computers through a single warrant request that would allow them to hack into devices regardless of location.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has fought the unreasonable expansion of government surveillance for more than a decade.  The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“The FBI is asking to significantly expand its reach by reducing judicial checks under the Fourth Amendment, which they seem to see as mere speed bumps.  But those speed bumps are what remain of our Constitutional protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

“This latest request to expand surveillance comes not long after we learned that government officials were expanding surveillance programs in ways that went beyond Constitutional limits. Given the FBI’s history of overreach on everything from National Security Letters to accessing cell phone data, it should be astounding they would have the gall to ask to expand their power to include hacking computers regardless of location or jurisdictional bounds.  While the FBI’s desire for ever-enhancing criminal investigative tools may seem to be par for the course at this point, the judiciary and public must continue to stand in the way of granting it undue powers and unwise discretion.

“Anecdotal examples of our most feared crimes will be used to support this expansion, but this power could also be exercised by law enforcement to investigate minor alleged offenses as well.  The concept of allowing any one magistrate to grant access to any computer nationwide is so expansive that it seems it could not pass any reasonable person’s definition of a so-called reasonable search.”

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