Rule 41 Expands Government Hacking Authority
An obscure procedure—amending a federal rule known as Rule 41 — goes into effect today, December 1st. This procedure radically expands the U.S. government’s authority to hack. The changes to Rule 41 make it easier for federal agencies to break into the Internet’s infrastructure, our businesses’ networks, and the personal computers of our users to take data, and engage in remote surveillance.
These changes impact any person using a computer with Internet access anywhere in the world. However, they will disproportionately impact people using privacy-protective technologies, including Tor and VPNs.
i2Coalition has been adding their voice to calls to stop the changes to Rule 41 going into effect. Now that it has, we joined calls in October, and in the last few weeks to request clarity from the U.S. government on how the changes to Rule 41 have been used.
Earlier this year, the i2Coalition signed on to an industry letter opposing the expansion of Rule 41. i2Coalition advocated for the rejection of changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by passing the Stopping Mass Hacking Act, and was a cosponsor of the website https://NoGlobalWarrants.org.
On November 21st, i2Coalition joined a coalition of 26 civil society organizations, trade associations, and companies to support the passage of the Review the Rule Act (S.3475, H.R.6341). The bill would have delayed the implementation of changes to the rule.
Now, with December 1st finally here, we are demanding further transparency and openness on how this rule change will affect the Internet. As the leading voice for the Internet’s infrastructure, i2Coalition eagerly awaits comments from Attorney General Lynch on these changes regarding how the amendments to Rule 41 will be used. Though today’s outcome is not what we worked for, we will continue to press for clarity in how the changes to Rule 41 will impact our businesses and customers.