U.S. Court Rules FBI Can Hack Computers Without Warrant

FBI doesnt need a warrant to hack computers, rules U.S. Court

The Federal Bureau Investigations (FBI) may no longer need the proposed amendment to the Rule 41 as a U.S. court has ruled that it doesnt need warrants to hack into computers.

As of now FBI needed a warrant from a court to hack into any computer in United States or around the world. A proposed amendment to Rule 41 would have allowed FBI to hack into computers behind Tor or VPN without warrant and based on suspicion that the user indulged in illegal activities.

A U.S. court has ruled that the FBI can hack into a computer without a warrant. The US court delivered this landmark judgement in the case involving FBI’s hacking of child pornography site, Playpen, that had been accessible through Tor, a browser designed for anonymous web surfing.

If you have been following Playpen story, you would know that FBI had hacked into Playpen in 2014 and instead of taking it offline, FBI had converted Playpen into a honeypot to trap even more pedophiles.

The FBI used Playpen to track down and arrest its members by hacking their computers by  secretly collect their IP addresses. On of the alleged members of Playpen had filed a case against FBI in a US court arguing that FBI had seized evidence against him unlawfully.

Earlier the US court had declared the FBI hacking as illegal but the latest judgement by a  U.S. court in Virginia has ruled in favor of the FBI, according to court documents unsealed on Thursday.

The judge, Henry Morgan, ruled that even though the FBI obtained a warrant to hack into the suspect’s computer, none was needed.

The suspect may have used Tor to keep his browsing anonymous, but his IP address still isn’t private information, the judge wrote in his ruling. This is because the IP address is given out to third parties in order to access the Internet and even the Tor network.

Privacy advocacy group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, is opposed to this part of the ruling.

“The implications for the decision, if upheld, are staggering,” wrote Mark Rumold, an attorney with the group in a blog post. Law enforcement could seize information from a person’s computer without a warrant, probable cause or any suspicion at all, he said.

The arrested Playpen user has a option of going to the higher court to challenge the Virginia court’s decision but until then FBI will have unfettered powers to hack your computers.


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