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Supreme Court OKs Rule Change Allowing Gov't Hacking of Any Computer With VPN Software

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The U.S. Supreme Court quietly OK'd a rule change last Thursday that will allow the government to obtain a warrant and remotely hack into ANY computer or smartphone that has anonymity software installed on it (VPN, Tor browser, etc) and the devices of anyone who has tried to conceal their location for privacy reasons (e.g. if you turn off the location data for smartphone apps for privacy reasons your phone can be searched under these new rules) . Congress still has to approve it, but...  


(b) Venue for a Warrant Application. At the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government: * * * * * (6) a magistrate judge with authority in any district where activities related to a crime may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district if: (A) the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means;

the proposed rule change: http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/frcr16_8mad.pdf


EFF: "The first part of this change would grant authority to practically any judge to issue a search warrant to remotely access, seize, or copy data relevant to a crime when a computer was using privacy-protective tools to safeguard one's location. Many different commonly used tools might fall into this category. For example, people who use Tor, folks running a Tor node, or people using a VPN would certainly be implicated. 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. 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."

EFF article: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/04/rule-41-little-known-committee-proposes-grant-new-hacking-powers-government




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Just an update to say EFF has set up a website with more info on the Rule 41 issue and there is a convenient little form on the site that will send your congressperson a message (hint): https://noglobalwarrants.org/

This is the letter that was sent to the house and senate majority and minority leaders today (a long list of Internet companies and civil liberties organizations co-signed the letter): https://noglobalwarrants.org/assets/Rule41CoalitionLetter.pdf

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