FBI to Utilize Rule 41 to Hack any Computer: Areas of Understanding and Fear of Manipulation

FBI to Utilize Rule 41 to Hack any Computer: Areas of Understanding and Fear of Manipulation

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The speed of technology is never ending and areas of criminality, terrorism, sexual grooming of minors, and an array of important negative areas is a major concern for nations internally and externally. Yet, while the above-named areas need to be covered based on a legal process, the fear is that surveillance is getting out of control. In other words, nations can manipulate the system to different varying degrees, thereby, threatening the very foundations of democracy and freedom.

It is understandable, for example, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in America seeks special powers to catch individuals involved in international and domestic child pornography – and child abuse rings. Of course, a legal process to monitor individuals, groups, websites, and other areas, based on a legal signed document to hack into genuine targeted areas is the way to protect the foundations of democracy. If this is engaged, then the vast majority of citizens of any nation will understand the need to stem and catch the most dangerous people in society who prey on children.

Likewise, similar examples can be expressed in relation to preventing domestic and international terrorism. In these essential areas, the FBI needs special powers but once more the legal process must be involved. If not, then areas of entrapment and so forth can get out of control. Equally, certain nations may use laws to target specific groups based on bias rather than fairness in order to keep certain groups downtrodden – for example, the Shia are persecuted in Saudi Arabia and the Kurds are currently suffering in Turkey.

According to recent events then Rule 41 is now being expanded whereby the FBI can hack internally and internationally on multiple computers based on a single warrant. Indeed, it appears that even magistrate judges can now authorize outside the normal jurisdiction that they legislate for.

Reuters says, The changes will allow judges to issue warrants in cases when a suspect uses anonymizing technology to conceal the location of his or her computer or for an investigation into a network of hacked or infected computers, such as a botnet.”

Ron Wyden, a Democratic Senator, is worried about the recent changes to Rule 41. He says the changes to the procedure of criminality entailed “one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years.”

This is based on, according to Wyden, the “unprecedented authority to hack into Americans’ personal phones, computers and other devices.”

The counter argument put forward by General Leslie Caldwell, the United States Assistant Attorney General, is that The possibility of such harm must be balanced against the very real and ongoing harms perpetrated by criminals – such as hackers, who continue to harm the security and invade the privacy of Americans through an ongoing botnet, or pedophiles who openly and brazenly discuss their plans to sexually assault children.”

The fear is that innocent people who just seek anonymity, to protect privacy, to enlighten people by spreading delicate information (for example, enlightening people about the abuse of animals inside laboratories outside the permitted scope), and other important areas, will be hacked by a prying state for merely using a powerful VPN, Tor, and other areas of software to protect privacy. In other words, the new changes to Rule 41, while understandable in areas involving pedophiles and terrorists, is equally alarming if used to monitor innocent individuals that merely seek natural privacy and anonymity.

Other important areas haven’t been covered in this article. Despite this, the focus on limited areas mentioned above is extremely worrying.



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