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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Senators seek answers from DOJ on expanded mass hacking authority rule change

Ron Wyden

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chris Coons (D-DE) continue to push for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to substantively answer questions from 23 Congress members about a new expanded mass hacking authority that is set to go into effect in December if Congress does not act.

“The American people deserve answers to these very basic questions about how our government intends to hack thousands or millions of personal devices with a single warrant,” Wyden said. “The Justice Department’s failure to answer these questions should be a big blinking warning sign about whether the government can be trusted to carry out these hacks without harming the security and privacy of innocent Americans’ phones, computers and other devices.”

The senators said the DOJ did not provide details about how the government will uphold fundamental protections including how to prevent “forum shopping” by federal prosecutors when seeking a single warrant to hack thousands of devices at once. Additionally, the senators requested information on how the government plans to “clean” devices belonging to innocent Americans and how the government would prevent further damaging a compromised device already hacked by both a criminal and the government.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers recently introduced the Stopping Mass Hacking Act, which would block Rule 41 amendments from taking effect. Another bipartisan bill would delay the rule changes for 6 months.