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VPN Providers Protest Plans to Expand Government Hacking Powers

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Ceewan, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Ceewan

    Ceewan Famished

    Proposed legislative changes that will increase law enforcement’s ability to hack into computers are under attack by a broad coalition. Google, EFF, Demand Progress and FightForTheFuture are joined by TOR, Private Internet Access and other VPN services seeking to block changes to Rule 41.

    Back in April the U.S. Supreme Court approved a rule change that will allow law enforcement to obtain a warrant to hack into computers and even phones anywhere in the world.

    The changes affect Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which determines how the government investigates criminal complaints.

    The changes will allow a judge to grant permission to law enforcement agencies enabling them to hack computers anywhere, provided the location of the target computer has been hidden by technical means. That means that users of TOR, VPNs, and proxies etc could all become vulnerable, regardless of why they are using such tools. But it doesn’t stop there.

    “It might also extend to people who deny access to location data for smartphone apps because they don’t feel like sharing their location with ad networks,” the EFF previously warned.

    “It could even include individuals who change the country setting in an online service, like folks who change the country settings of their Twitter profile in order to read uncensored Tweets.”

    Also of concern is the second part of the proposal which would allow judges to issue a search warrant authorizing the hacking or seizing of computers that might be acting as part of a botnet. That means you, if your computer happens to have been infected with a botnet trojan.

    Importantly, Congress didn’t vote through the changes to Rule 41, judicial approval was obtained by the Department of Justice instead. This means that unless Congress passes new legislation to block the changes, time will run out December 1, 2016.

    With this deadline looming, a fresh push is underway to try and block what many see as a serious danger to computer users’ security worldwide. To that end a broad coalition of 50 organizations including public interest groups, privacy tool providers, and Internet companies have written to Congress opposing the changes.

    In their letter, Google, EFF, Demand Progress, FightForTheFuture, TOR, VPN providers Private Internet Access, Golden Frog and Hide My Ass, plus many others, urge Congress to “consider and debate” the implications of the new rule.


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