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By Electronic Frontier Foundation (Reporter)
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Support the SMDH Act and Give Congress Time to Debate New Government Hacking Powers

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 16:33
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The clock is ticking. If Congress doesn’t act now, the government will soon be able to use a search warrant to hack an untold number of computers located around the world.

Lawmakers are rightfully pushing to postpone the new hacking powers, arguing that Congress has not had sufficient time to debate these new powers and their privacy and security implications. We’ve supported previous delay efforts, and more than 35,000 of your spoke out against global warrants. Now we’re asking Congress to pass the Stalling Mass Damaging Hacking Act (the SMDH Act), which gives Congress until April 1 to consider these new hacking powers.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department proposed a change to the rules governing search warrants—Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure—that would let law enforcement obtain warrants to search computers regardless of where they’re located in cases where the computers are part of a bot-net or investigators can’t pinpoint the location of the computer.

That rule change is set to go into effect on December 1 despite the fact that Congress has not yet weighed in or even held a single hearing. The fight will continue after December 1, since Congress has the ability to roll back the rule change once it goes into effect. It’s crucial that Congress pass the SMDH Act as soon as possible and delay the rule change and take the time to hold hearings about a change that would significantly open up the government’s hacking authority.

Despite lawmakers’ questions—and some less than helpful answers from the Justice Department—we still don’t know enough about how the government plans to use these new hacking powers, whether there are any privacy or security protections in place, and how government hacking can open up Internet users’ devices and networks to attacks from non-government hackers.

These are crucial questions about the basic the privacy and security concerns of Americans and the members of Congress who represent them. Congress needs more time to consider these questions and get more information in hearings before the new hacking powers go into effect. Call your senator today and tell them to support the Stalling Mass Damaging Hacking Act to give Congress that time.

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