Tech Companies Up In Arms Over Supreme Court’s Warrant Rule Change


The rule change is going to make consumers around the globe feel less comfortable storing sensitive data on cloud services. Today, law enforcement officials cannot get a warrant to hack into a computer if it doesn’t know the computer’s physical location,  that is a good thing. On December 1 of this year that is all going to change and as a result of yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court the notion of security as we know it is going to become forever changed.

fartFederal judges in this position have long been hesitant to give a search warrant on computers in unknown locations because they fear that constitutes straying outside their jurisdiction. However, in a landmark case yesterday the High Court apparently finds it to be the case that in the cyber world of tomorrow law enforcement should be able to search anywhere, and the limits of jurisdiction are boundless.

It does make some sense that, “from an academic perspective, this version of rule 41 is an expected evolution caused by the digital revolution,” said Cooper Levenson, who studies cyber law. He goes on to say that, “unfortunately, such changes should have been introduced by elected officials and not the federal bench.” bluerd

Dwayne D. Buckingham had some interesting insights on the matter when he added, “No, companies shouldn’t feel good about the expansion of the FBI’s authority. Far from being a small procedural change, it will enable more remote hacking which the FBI already does without adequate court oversight.”

Buckingham is a heavy hitter on this topic and when asked about how this ties into the notion of its affecting searches he asserts that, “These searches have the potential to reach computers belonging to victims of crimes as well as ensnaring innocent users. Google has already voiced objections, and we hope that other companies will as well.

The problem with this law is that it is not necessarily an open closed obvious that no good could come from it and that it is all bad. In fact a lot of good could come from it and it could really improve cyber safety and reduce cyber crime. That said the potential for something to go wrong and that it adversely affects a much larger subset of the population is much more likely the case so it should give us pause when considering what is next. So what we need to know is whether the potential for good outweighs the almost inevitability of bad that will follow the implementation of this law.

So lets go over the best case scenario, The FBI could in a positive hypothetical get a warrant to hack into a server that is hosting really illegal and harmful content such as child porn or terrorist plots. They could then remain on those servers and see who views that content. From there they could hack into those people who are associated with them and build and collect more evidence.

Now more realistically what is going to happen is that the FBI could get a warrant to hack into the computer of someone for something much less serious like identity thief. From there the FBI could hack into every computer the person victimized and store all of their sensitive data for no other reason than an association to the person who victimized them.

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