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Government Privacy United States

FBI To Gain Expanded Hacking Powers as Senate Effort To Block Fails (reuters.com) 153

A last-ditch effort in the Senate to block or delay rule changes that would expand the U.S. government's hacking powers failed Wednesday, despite concerns the changes would jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans and risk possible abuse by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Reuters adds: Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes which, will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's second-ranking Republican. The changes will allow judges to issue warrants in cases when a suspect uses anonymizing technology to conceal the location of his or her computer or for an investigation into a network of hacked or infected computers, such as a botnet.
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FBI To Gain Expanded Hacking Powers as Senate Effort To Block Fails

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  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:43PM (#53395413) Homepage
    Can the government just ban encryption already?

    And do we really need HTTPS ?

    The FBI's hacking would be easier if all systems were required to have a special port with a telnetd root shell running, exclusively for the FBI's use, of course.
    • Re:Ban Encryption (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RhettLivingston ( 544140 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:54PM (#53395529) Journal

      I'd give you a +1 "funny", but, in the current environment, there are a large number of readers who are likely saying "exactly!"

      And that is how history repeats itself.

      • The government has decided it should not ban encryption.
        This would make us all less safe.
        Instead, the government has invested effort in developing the strongest encryption key.
        The strength of this key will keep us all safe.
        Everyone must begin using this encryption key immediately.
        People who refuse are obviously up to no good.
        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Better than that would be to require that ca1.nsa.gov be required to be a root CA on every device capable of using a cert. Then nothing is compromised. But the government could compromise everything.
      • in the current environment, there are a large number of readers who are likely saying "exactly!"

        You, guys, wanted the President to be a dictator as far back as 2010 [latimes.com]! So he could "do a lot of things quickly".

        And that is how history repeats itself.

        The law being discussed will be signed by Obama. Whom you elected.

        • And while I like a lot of what Obama has done, I disagree with him strongly on expanding the powers of the NSA/FBI instead of adding better checks on them. Of course, he's not solely to blame - there are a lot of people in Congress that deserve a good share of blame - but the buck does stop in the Oval Office as far as that's concerned. (Now if he vetoed it and Congress overrode his veto, I'd say his hands would be clean, but obviously that didn't happen.)

          • No, the buck stops with the voters who reliably reelect 97% of Congress and always elect republicans and democrats to the white house every time. Until that changes, nothing else will.

    • its already there, its called intel management engine and its one of the best kept secrets of the computer industry.

      NSA very very likely has 100% access, probably a level higher than the corps that WANTED this ability.

      I fear what 4 years of full republican asswipes will do to what few freedoms we have left. stupid flyovers - they fucked us good. I hope the 'stigginit' they did backfires and makes THEIR lives hell like it will for the rest of us.

      • If you are going to blame me for imagined transgressions that Trump may commit in the future may I blame you for the actual hits on freedom committed by the the Obama administration?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The problem for that is the US would then need a special, bespoke production line and that would add costs to vast international just in time production runs.
      Costs in testing, costs in staff, costs in a brands ramp up and down over a product "just for the USA".
      All the interesting people would avoid any US telco network compatible device knowing its wide open to the US gov by design.
      Weak junk US gov mandated design keys would then walk with staff, ex staff, former staff, private detectives, faiths, other
  • Pay attention. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:47PM (#53395459) Journal

    Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes which, will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas,

    Bear this in mind: A Democrat tried to block the FBI from hacking any computer anywhere and a Republican tried to stop it.

    And yes, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has been opposing this snooping since he entered the Senate in 1996, so no, it doesn't have anything to do with Donald Trump or President Obama.

    • Re:Pay attention. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:51PM (#53395489)

      Bear this in mind. A Democrat did this with an incoming Republican President.

      NOT when it was an incoming Democrat President.

      But then I suppose Pope Ratzo has selective recall and forgets that Pelosi campaigned on repealing the Patriot Act in 2006 if they won the house, then in 2008 if they won the Presidency. Then EXTENDED the sunset provisions!

      • Bear this in mind. A Democrat did this with an incoming Republican President.

        NOT when it was an incoming Democrat President.

        Yes, Senator Wyden did it when Barack Obama was president-elect, too.

      • Senator Wyden has been against government snooping from the beginning of him being in office. He's one of the few politicians with any scruples at all IMHO.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          He's been against this crap when Clinton, Feinstein, Boxer, Obama, and others were all pushing or aquiescing to it as well!

          I really wish he was a Senator for my District because at least on tech issues and privacy he's on the same page I am.

          Related: Now that the FBI has broad ranging support for hacking anyone, how long do you think it will be until we find out about Trustzone/TPM/Management Engine/SEE hardware, and the assorted chains of 'untrustworthy' firmware being used to carte blanche hack everyone's

          • This is why I now vote 3rd party, I'm not voting for the Democrats because they're progressive liars, and I certainly won't vote for Republican "conservative"/regressive liars.
    • Yet the Democrats voted for it as well. That is how it passed. There is no "side" here.
      • Yet the Democrats voted for it as well. That is how it passed. There is no "side" here.

        Republicans have controlled congress since 2010.

        • mod up.

          the R's own all the bullshit that has happened under obama.

          whatever O wanted, the R's denied. 'whatever it is you want, we don't want it and we will burn the country down to show how much we have O'

          don't give us shit about the D's being at fault. they have not been truly in power in well over a decade.

          at this point, with all 4 branches led by R-based idiots (the nsa/cia/fbi are the 4th branch. you didn't know that?) - we're going to see some major derpage coming our way and we won't have anyone to

        • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

          Yet the Democrats voted for it as well. That is how it passed. There is no "side" here.

          Republicans have controlled congress since 2010.

          The article is incredibly short on detail, but it appears this is the result of changes to the federal rules of criminal procedure, which are made directly by the Supreme Court pursuant to an act passed in 1934 granting them that power. The court, last I checked, was a Supremely partisan (pun intended) 4-4 mix, but they seem to agree on this. While it's true that the congress could have stopped those rules, I don't believe it's something that commonly happens, partisan rhetoric aside.

          • The court, last I checked, was a Supremely partisan (pun intended) 4-4 mix, but they seem to agree on this.

            This issue has not come before the Court since it's been a 4-4 mix. The last time this issue came up to SCOTUS, it was under Republican control.

            • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

              Whether the issue comes before the court or not is moot--this isn't a judicial precedent, this is a rule as to how US courts behave. It's ambiguous whether or not Scalia was alive or not at the time this rule was codified--apparently, the Court transmits the rules to Congress "by May 1st" of the year they go into effect, and the rules can take effect no earlier than December 1st of that year. Since Scalia died in February, it's more likely than not this happened after his death.

              • Since Scalia died in February, it's more likely than not this happened after his death.

                You will find that he was not.

                • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

                  You will find that he was not.

                  Are we playing madlibs?

                  Snarking aside, I'm not especially educated on this topic... if you can find a date for this rule (I personally cannot) I'd love to see it so I can learn more.

    • In fairness, this isn't a 100% left/right divide, although there seems to be more opposition from Democrats than Republicans. That said however, the important thing is to remember who voted for which, and work to get those people out of office. And the best way to do that? Most likely through support of primary opponents that make an issue of this.
      • by harrkev ( 623093 )

        Explain to me why this is a bad thing? This allows the FBI to hack a computer IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT!

        I am VERY firmly against surveillance without a warrant (and a fan of Snowden), but if a judge signs a search warrant, I say the the government do what they need to do.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This is like the police getting a warrant to search every house in an entire city. You don't see why this is bad?

        • Re:Pay attention. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @03:18PM (#53395777) Homepage
          This allows the government to hack AN UNLIMITED NUMBER OF COMPUTERS if they have a rubber stampped warrant from a judge who has no understanding of what they are signing.

          But hey, if the government says they need something, then they should probably get it.

          And there is this . . .

          Meesa thinks a weesa should give the chancellor emergency powers. -- Jar Jar Binks
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by harrkev ( 623093 )

            This allows the government to hack AN UNLIMITED NUMBER OF COMPUTERS if they have a rubber stampped warrant from a judge who has no understanding of what they are signing.

            I would assume that a judge would have some common sense. A warrant might say "All computers own by XXX person" or "all computers at XXX location." I doubt that a judge will sign a warrant for "all computers in Utah."

            What is the alternative? "Whoops, we got a warrant to search five computers, but all of the illegal stuff is on computer #

            • you would be (profoundly) sadly surprised at the level of naivety most of the judicial has about computers beyond using them for office related apps.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Right...because the Judge that signed the warrant that allowed the police to force EVERYONE in a bank to unlock their phones using their fingerprint (obviously only those people who didn't use a pass code) went to law school so he/she understood the implications of the warrant (you'll have to google it but it was on Slashdot some months ago).

              Seriously, what is the substantive difference between a warrant to force everyone to unlock their phones in a location such as a bank, that may only be there conducting

          • if they have a rubber stampped warrant from a judge who has no understanding of what they are signing

            You are aware that search warrants are a thing today, right? If judges are rubber-stamping warrants they don't understand, it's a problem that has nothing to do with this law.

          • by antdude ( 79039 )

            I am sure Jar Jar Binks would be a better candidate than today's. :P

        • They are not allowed to hack my computer even IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT, because no warrant can be granted for a computer on foreign soil.

          Of course, they'll just get GCHQ to do it for them, but still.

          • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

            Why do think this, what specific legal impediment, law, case law, precedent can you site that exists?

            Microsoft has had some issues with this and EU privacy laws around E-mail, I don't know the matter is entirely dead yet.

          • They are not allowed to hack my computer even IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT, because no warrant can be granted for a computer on foreign soil.

            I think what our courts would (eventually) say is that the constitution doesn't protect anyone, or anything, outside of the USA itself, and so no warrant is required in the first place.

            That's pretty much the entire basis our CIA was built upon.

            I'm not saying this is a good outlook; but I am saying it is the outlook.

          • If I can connect, you have made your computer available in whatever jurisdiction I live in.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Because they will always overreach, and this gives them the justification and opportunity to overreach. Judges are mostly older, ignorant of technology, and for the most part blissfully ignorant in regards to the constitutional protection of information as it applies to the 21st century. This expansion of powers should be immediately repealed. We need to reform information technology laws in a way that is based on rational understanding of Constitutional rights. It might mean that private data is unobtainab

    • Rest easy, it is not an order to hack systems, only an allowance to do so when absolutely necessary. Under Trump's watch, capabilities like this will only be used with "people that have to be tracked". These are neither the laws you should be afraid of or the droids you're looking for.
    • or President Obama.

      Except, couldn't Obama veto it?

      • Except, couldn't Obama veto it?

        Sure. My point is that you can find Democrats who aren't fascists. Ron Wyden is one. When push comes to shove, the GOP will line up and support fascists.

      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

        Except, couldn't Obama veto it?

        It doesn't appear so. The article is poorly written and very short on detail, but this looks like a change to the federal rules of criminal procedure, which are controlled directly by the Supreme Court. Congress CAN challenge these rules (the fact that the court has the ability to make these rules at all is a power delegated to them by the congress) but it typically does not. The president apparently has no say unless the congress acts.

    • Bear this in mind: A Democrat tried to block the FBI from hacking any computer anywhere and a Republican tried to stop it.

      And yes, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has been opposing this snooping since he entered the Senate in 1996, so no, it doesn't have anything to do with Donald Trump or President Obama.

      Yep.

      Taking $60 million from down-ballot campaigns [politico.com] and giving it to the Clinton campaign so she could defeat Bernie Sanders doesn't seem like such a good move now, does it?

      • Taking $60 million from down-ballot campaigns [politico.com] and giving it to the Clinton campaign so she could defeat Bernie Sanders doesn't seem like such a good move now, does it?

        There's more where that came from.

        And now that every single thing that's going to happen in government after Jan 20 is squarely on the shoulders of the Republican Party and President-Elect Urinal Cake, they probably won't really need that much money.

    • I don't really have a problem with this particular thing, as far as I can tell. It requires a warrant still.
      It's the warrantless stuff, and the secret trials that I oppose. I don't oppose everything the FBI/NSA does (although there is a frighteningly large amount of what they do that I oppose, which is concerning).
  • msmash/manish (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:52PM (#53395503) Homepage Journal
    Who is msmash/manish? He/she seems to have an agenda?
  • Take Note (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:52PM (#53395507)
    Take note of who voted for, and against, this.

    I haven't seen a posting yet of the entire list, but in addition to the two named in the summary, Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Steve Maines (R-Montana) are also noted in TFA as voicing opposition.
    • The best I got was the listing of sponsors for one of the bills:
      Senator Wyden (along with Sens. Coons, Lee, Franken, and Daines)

      Source [techdirt.com]

    • Last time I saw an analysis of support for surveillance etc in congress, it was interestingly not divided along party lines. Roughly equal parts D and R opposed and supported it.
      Rather, congress was divided by how much time they've spent in office. The newer ones tended to oppose it, and the older ones tended to support it. Note that the American public as a whole seems to favor it, so any campaign to change this should be aimed primarily at the American public, not the senators. Also, i think the country
  • On the one hand this of course sounds bad for all the obvious reasons slashdot has focused on over the many many years. On the other hand however, better they are honest with the public about the torture and hacking they were going to be doing regardless of what their laws said.
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Sort of. When they're doing it all cloak and dagger, they have two fairly strong restrictions:
      1) A slap on the wrist if anyone finds out.
      2) Inadmissible in court.

      When they're doing it in public, they only have the one restriction: That a judge sign off on it. And given that there doesn't appear to be much in the way of jurisdictional restrictions, they only really have to find one judge somewhere in the country who's willing to sign off on whatever with minimal convincing.

      Countries like Russia, China, et

      • Sort of. When they're doing it all cloak and dagger, they have two fairly strong restrictions: 1) A slap on the wrist if anyone finds out. 2) Inadmissible in court.

        When they're doing it in public, they only have the one restriction: That a judge sign off on it.

        1) you seem to have some contradiction there between "fairly strong restriction" and "slap on the wrist if anyone finds out"
        2) They invented "parallel construction" some time ago.

        Countries like Russia, China, etc.. hell even friendly countries like Canada or the UK.. should be super annoyed with this though as the FBI is effectively claiming jurisdiction over their most-definitely-not-American computer systems (and the citizens operating them.)

        I go back to my original point- They were going to do the hacking anyway. They have been doing the hacking anyway. The right answer for foreign governments and populations is the same right answer as for domestic citizens like myself- Don't leave my doors unlocked, my windows open, or my telecommunicated data unencrypted, or the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans and risk possible abuse by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump"

    But it was just passed by the current administration. So the ones that want to "jeopardize the privacy rights" would be the current administration. But now the current administration will cry foul. But if their person won they would most likely just let this pass with no issues and not said a word.

  • Until the first batch of senators, congress critters, or other high officials or combination thereof suddenly gets thier dirt exposed and leaked via the FBI.
  • by tomkost ( 944194 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @03:06PM (#53395643)
    Yes, this is a big privacy blow. Probably the biggest in quite some time. Maybe the largest since the Patriot Act. And yes, there will be little outcry because most people don't even know or care what this means. But what will no doubt happen is the fed will shop around until they find the judge who grant them every warrant they want. Which they will no doubt find several if not more. This should be called, "Just Grant My Damned Warrant"
  • If the FBI is now a republican proxy, how will the Democrats make plans?

    • That's an awfully good question.

      My best guess -- there will be an extended period of whole-hog persecution of Democrats for, well, being Democrats, and Republicans will get a pass from the newly politicized FBI. Afterwards, I expect Republicans will dial it down a bit, lest it become too obvious that they're using law enforcement directly as political tool. If I were a Democrat, I'd plan for two years of sitting around with my thumb up my ass, because at this point I don't believe the Republicans will let

  • Please re-submit news article describing legislation going into effect without clumsily trying to re-cast it as a Donald Trump issue. I hope everyone can see how banal it is. So if Hillary had won, these Orwellian rule changes would have triggered chirping bluebirds instead?? People will tire soon of the press finding new ways to take the 'passive' out of passive-aggressive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All three branches of the government have failed to do their jobs.

    Despite what any agency or congress or the courts say, the "laws" they pass are still subordinate to the U.S. Constitution. No "law" has the power to override it.

    I encrypt the hell out of everything and I will never change that practice. If government wants the data, they must obtain a true warrant and I will decrypt it for them.

    • If government wants the data, they must obtain a true warrant and I will decrypt it for them.

      Even then it seems that you can tell them to go piss up a rope. They can confiscate the device/storage with the warrant but you don't have to give them the password. They then can try to crack it before the heat death of the universe.

  • by ramriot ( 1354111 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @03:14PM (#53395725)

    Just thought I would point that out to any passing FBI operative who thinks that they can go interfering with remote devices without considering international borders.

    You may just find yourself falling foul of international treaties initiated by your own government that class this sort of action as cyber-warfare. I just hope the government above the target of your hack is understanding and decides not to retaliate with physical force to your electronic attack.

    I for one would find it an interesting exercise in jurisprudence for the FBI to be indicted in a foreign court for cyberwarfare.

    • Just thought I would point that out to any passing FBI operative who thinks that they can go interfering with remote devices without considering international borders.

      You may just find yourself falling foul of international treaties initiated by your own government that class this sort of action as cyber-warfare. I just hope the government above the target of your hack is understanding and decides not to retaliate with physical force to your electronic attack.

      I for one would find it an interesting exercise in jurisprudence for the FBI to be indicted in a foreign court for cyberwarfare.

      I think we can rely upon president Trump to tear up every last one of those treaties.

    • I for one would find it an interesting exercise in jurisprudence for the FBI to be indicted in a foreign court for cyberwarfare.

      Or for Quantico, VA to be bombed in retaliation...

    • Just thought I would point that out to any passing FBI operative who thinks that they can go interfering with remote devices without considering international borders.

      You may just find yourself falling foul of international treaties initiated by your own government that class this sort of action as cyber-warfare. I just hope the government above the target of your hack is understanding and decides not to retaliate with physical force to your electronic attack.

      I for one would find it an interesting exercise in jurisprudence for the FBI to be indicted in a foreign court for cyberwarfare.

      If I may point out, however, Russia and China engage in this venue quite frequently, and neither has received much push back from the USA. Assuming they consider it a legitimate manner of investigation, they probably wouldn't care, and given that they're the only two countries capable of doing anything other than lodging a complaint, I don't think the FBI is going to be very reserved in the use of its new found power. Particularly against those domestic terrorists, the Democrats...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thank goodness that Obama is still president and can veto this change. Or perhaps he never signed it into law and the author of the story is incorrect? Obama would never have authorized this. This is horrible. So we can safely assume Obama will have a chance to veto this before it gets passed. Before those damn rethuglicans get into power and ram it through.

    Thanks Obama! Thanks Democrats!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So it would not be unreasonable for any other government in the world to do the same. All computers in the USA are fair game to every other country's government. Completely legal.

  • Thank gawd I use OpenBSD and host my own web, email, and cloud services. Let the FBI give it a go against one of (if not the) most secure operating systems out there.
    • They don't have to get into your OS when they own all the SSL keys and intercept and compromise hardware before it reaches your door.

    • Thank gawd I use OpenBSD and host my own web, email, and cloud services. Let the FBI give it a go against one of (if not the) most secure operating systems out there.

      A $5 wrench in an FBI interrogation room is the ultimate cross-platform, near-universal exploit.

      Just sayin'.

      Strat

  • changes would jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans and risk possible abuse by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump

    The law will be signed by President Barack Obama — who vastly expanded [time.com] government's [theguardian.com] surveillance [nytimes.com] over his 8 years. So stop blaming Trump for it, uhm'k?

    • by J053 ( 673094 )

      There is no law. This is a change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which are set by the Federal Courts, and will take effect unless Congress stops it. Sen. Wyden was trying to stop it, but failed. Get your damn facts straight.

      • by mi ( 197448 )
        Thank you for confirming, the controversy has nothing to do with Trump. Just as I was saying.
  • Can someone please stop msmash submitting all this radical left wing fact-lite anti-Trump propaganda FUD.

  • I wish you people would be as concerned about the *actual* abuses by the Obama administration as you are about the *possible* abuses by the Trump administration.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans ...

    Short version: This is the US version of the 'snooper's charter' that has become law in Australia and the UK.

    ... in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. ..

    The USA has claimed they own the internet for some time now and no-one's denied it. This is a logical journey down a slippery slope: Doubly so, if one thinks the USA should be the world police.

  • allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas.

    And that doesn't violate my country's law...how exactly?

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