May 19, 2016

Wyden, Paul and Bipartisan Senators Call on Congress to Stop Massive Expansion of Government Surveillance and Hacking Power

Stopping Mass Hacking Act Reverses Disastrous Changes to Warrant Procedures; Congress Must Act or Government Will Be Able to Hack Millions of Americans’ Devices with a Single Warrant, Compromising Security and Privacy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., today introduced the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act to protect millions of law-abiding Americans from government hacking. The Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act prevents recently approved changes to Rule 41 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.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., are original co-sponsors of the Senate bill.

This is a dramatic expansion of the government’s hacking and surveillance authority. Such a substantive change with an enormous impact on Americans’ constitutional rights should be debated by Congress, not maneuvered through an obscure bureaucratic process,” said Sen. Wyden.Unless Congress acts before December 1, Americans’ security and privacy will be thrown out the window and hacking victims will find themselves hacked again - this time by their own government.”

"The Fourth Amendment wisely rejected general warrants and requires individualized suspicion before the government can forcibly search private information. I fear this rule change will make it easier for the government to search innocent Americans’ computers and undermine the requirement for individual suspicion," said Sen. Paul. 

"Congress must act to prevent this threat to the privacy of law abiding Americans and ensure a rule change of this magnitude has the proper oversight." said Sen. Baldwin. "I am proud to join this bipartisan effort. We need to stand up to this government intrusion and protect American civil liberties and freedoms."

“Our law enforcement policies need to be updated to reflect 21st century realities with a process that is transparent, effective and protects our civil liberties,” said Sen. Daines.

“This bill reins in the government’s ability to search and seize our personal electronic information.  Our right to privacy doesn’t end when we turn on a computer, send an email, or search the Internet,” said Sen. Tester. “We must ensure that law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to keep us safe while also protecting our civil liberties, and this bill is a first step in that direction.”

A House companion bill is expected to be introduced soon.

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 last month.

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.


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