05.19.16

Daines, Tester Call on Congress to Stop Massive Expansion of Government Surveillance and Hacking Power

Stopping Mass Hacking Act Reverses Disastrous Changes to Warrant Procedures; Congress Must Act or Government Will Be Able to Hack Millions of Americans’ Devices with a Single Warrant, Compromising Security and Privacy

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester today introduced the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act to protect millions of law-abiding Americans from government hacking.

The Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act, S. 2952, is a bipartisan effort that prevents recently approved changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure from going into effect. The changes would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack an unlimited number of Americans’ computers if their computers had been affected by criminals, possibly without notifying the victims.  

“Our law enforcement policies need to be updated to reflect 21st century realities with a process that is transparent, effective and protects our civil liberties,” Daines stated. “We cannot give the federal government a blank check to infringe upon our liberties.” 

“This bill reins in the government’s ability to search and seize our personal electronic information.  Our right to privacy doesn’t end when we turn on a computer, send an email, or search the Internet,” Tester said. “We must ensure that law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to keep us safe while also protecting our civil liberties, and this bill is a first step in that direction.”

The bill is also sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).

A House companion bill is expected to be introduced soon.

At the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) the Judicial Conference recommended an administrative change to Rule 41 which were approved by the Supreme Court last month. 

The amendments to Rule 41 would make it easier for DOJ to obtain warrants for remote electronic searches. The amendments would allow a single judge to issue a single warrant authorizing government hacking of an untold number of devices located anywhere in the world. The amendments would take effect on December 1, 2016 absent Congressional action. 

Read a one-page summary and bill text of the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act.