Many of us have found solace in the world of TOR (The Onion Router), where it is virtually impossible to be tracked. Now it seems we're all criminals. But why?
I just read a very good article about TOR and VPN (Virtual Private Network) users. And how the National Spy Agency is trying to pass a bill on the down low that would allow them to track any TOR user and/or any VPN user without a warrant.
An update to the innocuous-sounding Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure could soon grant powers to judges across the US to issue search warrants for law enforcement to remotely access devices that are using privacy tools.
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure sets the rules for criminal prosecutions and this change would see a sweeping expansion of law enforcement’s ability to engage in remote surveillance to gather evidence, with zero public debate on the new powers.
The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) says that Tor and VPN users, as well as people who reject location tracking by apps on their smartphone, could all be targeted for remote access, seizure or copying of data.
The new rule, which has just left the Supreme Court and is headed to Congress, could also end up targeting people who have been a victim of malware as it seeks to find the source of potentially harmful botnets.
Malicious actors may even be able to hijack the malware the government uses to infiltrate botnets, because the government often doesn’t design its malware securely. Government access to the computers of botnet victims also raises serious privacy concerns, as a wide range of sensitive, unrelated personal data could well be accessed during the investigation. This is a dangerous expansion of powers, and not something to be granted without any public debate on the topic.
Congress has until December 1 to strike down the amendment to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, otherwise it’ll come into force across the federal court system.
The key word here is “procedural.” By law, the rules and proposals are supposed to be procedural and must not change substantive rights. But the amendment to Rule 41 isn’t procedural at all. It creates new avenues for government hacking that were never approved by Congress.EFF says that this change could also affect people outside the US so they should be “equally concerned.”
Making such a huge change via a ‘small’ procedural amendment sidesteps both legislative and public scrutiny.
With Rule 41, little-known committee proposes to grant new hacking powers to the government on EFF
As stated in the above article, not only will the Land of the Free be targeted with this new law, but undoubtedly users from any other nation.
In its current incarnation, Rule 41 stipulates that magistrate judges can only authorize searches within their own jurisdiction. The amendment would allow them to issue warrants to hack into and seize information on a computer if its location has been “concealed through technical means.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the more outspoken privacy advocates in Congress, slammed the proposal as a “sprawling expansion of government surveillance” and called on Congress to reject it.
“These amendments will have significant consequences for Americans’ privacy and the scope of the government’s powers to conduct remote surveillance and searches of electronic devices,” Wyden said in a statement. “Under the proposed rules, the government would now be able to obtain a single warrant to access and search thousands or millions of computers at once; and the vast majority of the effected computers would belong to the victims, not the perpetrators, of a cyber crime.”
“These are complex issues involving privacy, digital security and our Fourth Amendment rights, which require thoughtful debate and public vetting,” Wyden said. “Substantive policy changes like these are clearly a job for Congress, the American people and their elected representatives, not an obscure bureaucratic process.”
That's certainly something to think about.
Share this page with everyone you know. Whether they use TOR or VPN or not.
This is something that needs to be known worldwide.
Bless you all.