Thanks To Months Of Doing Nothing, Senate Allows DOJ's Rule 41 Changes To Become Law

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 debated.

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 April.

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 cleanups.

What it has done, however, is issue a statement saying the ends justify the means.

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 harm."

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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 2:45pm

    and the constituents wont punish their representatives now or in the future by voting them out!! we get what we deserve for sitting back, thumbs up asses, brains in neutral!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 3:33pm

    Christ. Anyone that uses a VPN to connect securely to their company to work remotely falls under "appearance of anonymization". Including politicians. Suppose we have no shortage of leaks in our future as tools add more cracks in the security.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      crashsuit, 2 Dec 2016 @ 12:49am

      Re:

      No need to worry, I'm sure the politicians themselves are exempt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 3:45am

        Re: Re:

        Politicians are not exempt from bullets to their brains.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 4:02am

        Re: Re:

        They may think that they are exempt, but until the owner of a device has been identified, a device is just another target on the Internet. An IP address does not identify who advice belongs to, especially when mobile devices are in use, and a smart phone is just a mobile computer with a touch interface.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 4:29pm

    Strange wording

    that the benefits given to authorities from the rule changes outweighed any potential for "unintended harm."

    What about "intended harm" then? Why even say it this way? Am I reading too much into their poor excuse of an excuse?

    Really, it looks like a perfect bait for paranoid trolls out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 11:51am

      Re: Strange wording

      What about "intended harm" then? Why even say it this way?

      It's not very strange. Ostensibly they mean to harm criminal groups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 4:33pm

    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.

    One person completely stopped cold any debate or discussion of a massive increase in the DOJ's power, allowing the changes to go through unopposed, not because they were voted for, but simply because they weren't voted against.

    Nice to know that all it takes is a single person in the right/wrong place in order to allow the various agencies to screw the public over in new and bigger ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 4:51pm

    Unfortunately this technique, and others like it are nothing new. You will see more and them exercised more frequently in the coming months. This is quite possibly Comey's *quid pro quo* for the meaningless emails.

    It solves the problem of the FBI committing multiple reprehensible crimes, because there is a new generic defense *ante ex post facto*. One (typically a member of upper government) may not be prosecuted for breaking a law that is currently no longer a law, no matter how heinous and blatant the crimes were.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 5:35pm

    With representatives like these, who needs enemies?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 5:40pm

    Seems to me that the bast way to wake these bastards up is to make sure all of their devices get caught up in a botnet sting...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 8:03pm

    Team America: World Police. Thinking they have the right to access your devices anywhere, anytime. Isn't it great, as someone who isn't even in the US, to know that the US thinks it has that right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    but but, 1 Dec 2016 @ 9:55pm

    amys white knickers and spreadable legs and vagina to fuck hard

    white knickers and spreadable legs amy has to fuck her hard in the cunt

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 11:49pm

    Criminal organisation

    This obviously makes the FBI a criminal organisation in the rest of the world.

    I'd like other countries to step up and arrest anyone associated with the FBI immediately, on grounds of belonging to a criminal organisation -- and of course, to make it very clear to the USA that they will do that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 12:41am

    Your law enforcement agencies and your hilariously misnamend DoJ have proven, over and over again, they are just the biggest criminal organisation in the U.S., not in any way proponents or defenders of law or justice. THey hold themselves above it, an repeatedly shield criminals in their own ranks from the consequences of their actions. Now, the U.S. has even declared legally that any person anywhere on this world is free game for their actions. WHich means the U.S: has declared it's completely, officially OK with them that they attack us digitally and in violation of the laws we live under.

    Just think about that for a minute. There is a foreign government out there that will, without hesitation, break the laws I live under and the souvereign domain of my country to attack me digitally, and openly admits to that practice and calls it right and just. That is not the position of an ally, or even a friend. That is the position of an agressor, an enemy, that respects neither me, my country or our laws.

    What the fuck are we supposed to do about that? Just accept that you will do with us what you want? Sever the global internet into nation state splinters? What the fuck? The digital policies of the U.S. threaten us all, on a global scale. And there is absolutely no remedy I can see, no way for us to do anything about this. The U.S. will continue in this avenue until it has eradicated freedom of any kind, and we are helpless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      I get the feeling most countries won't take this lying down. I suspect America will be on the receiving end of economic sanctions to start with, then if they continue to violate sovereign nations it can only go downhill from there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 3:59am

    It's not as if subsequent legislation can't be introduced to temper the "power" of this change. For example, legislation preventing the ability to shop for judges, etc., It wouldn't find too much opposition considering that they've already said that was not their intent with the change. So, call them on it. That's right, at any time Wyden could introduce said legislation or similar, but of course, he's not going to do that or anything like it because he's just as in on it as the rest of them. He serves little purpose but to rub peoples nose in it with constant reminders and doing very little else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 4:45am

    "..Months Of Doing Nothing, Senate.."

    as if they have done a damn thing in the past eight years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 2 Dec 2016 @ 6:09am

    So does this mean that the U.S. can no longer consider hacking done by a foreign government to be a crime as long as they claim they have a judge's approval in their country?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:23am

      Re:

      You forget "it's not a crime when we do it, only when those we say are enemies do it".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 1:42pm

      Re:

      As Padpaw noted, if there's one thing the USG is really good at it's double-standards and hypocrisy.

      While the DOJ can now hack any computer anywhere with a single warrant and that's perfectly okay and now legal, if another country dared to do the same to an important US system that would of course be an unprovoked act of aggression and grounds for retaliation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 6:24am

    My judge says that I can hack your judge into saying they want to hack a third party .. over there

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:00am

    shame on you texas

    Your Sen. John Cornyn is a criminal for pushing this through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:39am

      Re: shame on you texas

      Texan here, when we do it... we do it BIG!

      Including when we act like fucking traitors to our country!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:16am

    I forsee when it comes to war this will be used part of the justification on why they attacked the USA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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