U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today introduced legislation to provide Congress the time necessary to seriously consider and debate the proposed changes to Rule 41 that would expand the government’s ability to search computers and other digital devices.
The Review the Rule Act would delay the proposed changes to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 from going into effect until July 1, 2017. Without congressional action, the proposed changes will go into effect on December 1, 2016.
“We cannot give the federal government a blank check to infringe on Americans’ civil liberties,” Daines stated. “Congress needs the appropriate time to investigate the implications of this rule on Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.”
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Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 governs the procedures and parameters for issuing search warrants. Under current law, a federal judge may issue a warrant to search property located within a specific judicial district. At the urging of the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court ultimately approved two sweeping amendments to Rule 41:
- A judge may issue a warrant to remotely search, copy, and seize information from a device that does not have a known location (and may not be in the district) because the location has been concealed through technological means; and
- A single judge may issue a warrant to remotely search and copy information from suspected devices across five or more districts.
Daines was joined by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).