For immediate release: June 21, 2016


June 21, 2016

Every County Court in America is about to have the power to issue warrants that would give the FBI the ability to hack anyone in the world, millions at a time. The new rule would be so broad that if you have malware or are using certain privacy software, you could be targeted by the FBI. This authority is brand new — until this rule goes into effect, courts have only been able to issue warrants for the areas they serve.

You can help stop the expansion of government hacking now – email your rep and tell them to reject the changes to Rule 41 by passing the Stop Mass Hacking Act [1]

Fight for the Future is joining over 45 organizations concerned about digital security in a day of action today, June 21, to speak out against this change to Rule 41. (Read the coalition letter here)

Here’s the deal: The Department of Justice is using an amendment to a procedure, Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, to sneak through a whole new policy without Congressional action, and it would represent a sweeping expansion of law enforcement’s ability to engage in hacking and surveillance. If Congress does nothing, this massive change will automatically go into effect on December 1.

We need to stop this amendment from going into effect, but we can’t do it alone.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are supposed to set the rules for day-to-day procedural details involved with federal criminal prosecution, and are definitely not supposed to change substantive rights. But the modification to Rule 41 isn’t procedural at all. It would grant a judge the ability to issue a warrant to remotely access, search, seize, or copy data when “the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means” like VPNs, or whenever the computer appears to be involved in a botnet.This could turn the millions of unknowing victims of such malware into targets of government hacking themselves. The modified rule would grant this broad authority to any judge in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred. It creates new avenues for government hacking that were never approved by Congress. [2]

Write to your reps now and post about Rule 41 on your blog and social media. Let’s make sure the FBI can’t change the rules and expand their power unchecked.

Thanks for all you do,

Tiffiniy, Lizzy, Sean and the whole Fight for the Future team

[1] SMH Act; S. 2952; H.R. 5321