September 08, 2016

Wyden Calls For A Vote on SMH Act To Stop Massive Expansion of Government Hacking Into Americans’ Personal Devices

Wyden Warns Against Massive Expansion of Government Surveillance and Hacking Power; Unless Congress Passes Wyden’s Bill, New Powers Take Effect on December 1; Republicans Have Refused to Hold a Hearing on the Sprawling Hacking Plan

Washington, D.C. –. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today went to the Senate floor to call for a vote on his bill to stop a dangerous plan that would make it far easier for the government to hack into Americans’ personal devices on a massive scale. 

“This major policy change will make it easier for the government to hack into your personal devices and collect information about you,” Wyden said. “By allowing the government to use secret, untested malware, it could end up damaging not only our personal devices but the power grid or hospitals and nearly any other system connected to the internet.

Unless Congress passes Wyden’s Stopping Mass Hacking Act by December 1, the new rules allowing government mass hacking will automatically take effect. Wyden, joined by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, asked for a vote on his bipartisan bill to block the new rules from taking effect. Wyden also called on Senate leaders to hold a hearing on the sweeping rules changes and hs bill

“In my view, the limits of search and seizure are unquestionably an issue for Congress to debate. The Justice Department should not have the power to change the practical meaning of the Fourth Amendment without the people’s elected leaders weighing in,” Wyden said.

The Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act would protect millions of law-abiding Americans from government hacking by stopping new rules changes from going into effect. The changes would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack an unlimited number of Americans’ computers if their computers had been affected by criminals, possibly without notifying the victims.

Daines, along with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., are original co-sponsors of the Senate bill.

Background

At the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) the U.S. Federal Courts recommended an administrative change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which were approved by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The amendments to Rule 41 would make it easier for DOJ to obtain warrants for remote electronic searches. The amendments would allow a single judge to issue a single warrant authorizing government hacking of an untold number of devices located anywhere in the world. The amendments would take effect on December 1, 2016 absent Congressional action.

Read a one-page summary and bill text of the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act.