Supreme Court moves to expand FBI’s hacking authority

The Supreme Court approved hotly contested amendments to federal criminal procedure today that, if accepted by Congress, will expand the FBI’s ability to hack into computer networks.

The rule at the heart of the debate is Criminal Rule 41, which limits judges’ authority to authorize search warrants. Magistrate judges can usually only approve warrants within their jurisdiction — for instance, a magistrate judge in San Francisco typically can’t authorize a search in Brooklyn.

Today’s changes to Rule 41 would allow judges to “issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district.” Simply, it will allow an FBI agent sitting in Virginia to hack into a computer…

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