Tester, Daines Defend Montanans’ Right to Privacy

(U.S. Senate) – Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines stood up for Montanans’ right to privacy today and pressed Attorney General Loretta Lynch to provide Congress with more information about a proposed expansion of government hacking and surveillance powers.

In the letter to AG Lynch, Tester and Daines ask for more information about how the government would use the new hacking authority granted by amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Unless Congress acts, these new amendments are scheduled to go into effect on December 1.

“We are concerned about the full scope of the new authority that would be provided to the Department of Justice,” the Senators wrote. “We believe that Congress—and the American public—must better understand the Department’s need for the proposed amendments, how the Department intends to use its proposed new powers, and the potential consequences to our digital security before these rules go into effect.”

The lawmakers ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) a number of questions about how Rule 41 will be used, including:

  • How the government intends to prevent forum shopping by prosecutors seeking court approval to hack into Americans’ devices;
  • How the government will prevent collateral damage to innocent Americans’ devices and electronic data when it remotely search devices such as smartphones or medical devices;
  • Whether the government intends to use this new authority to search and “clean” Americans’ computers;
  • How the government will maintain a chain of custody when searching or removing evidence from a device;
  • How the government will notify Americans who are the subjects of remote government searches.

Daines and Tester introduced the Stop Mass Hacking Act on May 19, 2016, which would prevent changes to Rule 41 from going into effect.

You can read the Senator’s full letter to AG Lynch HERE.