Amendment in Rule 41 Expands FBI’s Warrantless Hacking

  • Saad Qureshi
  • Sep-15-2016

The United States: The advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial  Conference of the United States has proposed changes in Rule 41 of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. According to the amendment, the law enforcement agencies will be able to conduct warrantless hacks and surveillance on mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other devices by December 1st,2016.

The proposal had never been approved by the Congress because it authorizes a judge of any district to issue a warrant to FBI for performing the remote access, search, monitor and copy data from netizens’ computers. After getting into effect, order will allow the law enforcement agencies to hack into any user’s system even if he has concealed his data, identity or location through technological means.

A magistrate judge with authority in any district where activities related to a crime may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district.

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

The rule itself is split into two parts. According to the first part, law enforcement agencies are legally authorized to conduct remote access, seizure and copying of data even if a user has been using privacy protection tools. Moreover, the rule expands to those who decline to use location services on smartphones and change their location on social media to access censored media (Twitter, Facebook & Instagram).

In addition to this, the second part of the amendment states that warrant will allow FBI to infiltrate systems that are part of the botnet. With that said, netizens’ systems may get infected with state-sponsored malware that will create a network of botnet.

Will Rule 41 Effect Me If I’m Using a VPN or Tor?

The amendments are proposed and will be getting into effect from December 1st, 2016. However, netizens across the United States are concerned more about the fact that will Rule 41 affect them if they use a VPN or Tor to protect their data privacy? And what data will be compromised with the latest amendment?

At the moment netizens depend on Congress’s decision for refusing  Rule 41. If the Congress rejects Rule 41, users’ data privacy would be secured. On another hand, Rule 41 has bothered millions of users, as various journalist, celebrities, privacy activists, public figures, politicians & social workers find VPN as a savior of their data privacy. If Rule 41 goes into effect by December 1st, 2016, VPN, Tor and proxy services will give no protection against state surveillance.

Saad Qureshi

Saad Qureshi


Saad Qureshi's Biography :

Saad is a privacy advocate by day and a Dota 2 player by night. He loves to share his knowledge, experience, and insights about internet freedom and online privacy. When he is not busy blogging about the latest trend in the tech world, he is engaged in killing noobs on Dota.