Conyers Considering Legislation to Curb Government Hacking
Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives John Conyers, Jr.
The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, is looking into joining Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) movement to reverse Supreme Court-approved changes to federal criminal procedure that could expand government-run hacking operations. The change would allow judges to grant warrants for computer and data investigations in any jurisdiction.
“Many in the House, both Democrats and Republicans, remain concerned about the investigatory techniques at the heart of this discussion,” Conyers said late Thursday. “We will continue to study the issue and, when appropriate, we hope to join Senator Wyden in his call to block the change.”
Wyden introduced a bill on Thursday to reverse changes to federal criminal procedure “Rule 41,” approved by the Supreme Court in late April. Upon the introduction of the bill, Wyden’s office indicated a House companion bill is expected soon to reverse what Wyden called “dramatic expansion of the government’s hacking and surveillance authority.”
“These rule changes will allow the government to search millions of computers with the warrant of a single judge,” Wyden added in a Thursday post on Medium.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) cosponsor the Senate measure.
The Department of Justice requested the changes after three years of negotiations, and have disputed privacy advocates’ interpretation of the rule change.
“The amendment would not authorize the government to undertake any search or seizure or use any remote search technique not already permitted under current law, and the amendment does not change any of the traditional protections and procedures, such as the requirement that the government establish probable cause,” a DOJ spokesman said in an emailed statement Thursday.