At a time when cyber-crime is on the rise, every internet user feels that they are at a risk of being victimized by hackers who may try to steal information or violate their privacy by resorting to devious means. And at a time like this, the FBI just got an approval by the U.S. Supreme Court to hack just about any computer in the world with a warrant.
A recent FBI escapade broke the previous Rule 41 of the US law when it hacked the members of a child pornography site which was operating on the TOR network. The FBI said that it was using Network Investigative Technique to hack the members. However, without the current rule in place, this violated the laws.
In the light of the new rule, the FBI will be able to operate legally when it hacks into any computer in almost any country. While TOR is used by criminals to operate anonymously, there are many TOR users who utilize it for completely legitimate reasons. However, usage of such browsers may attract the attention of the FBI who can now search and seize any electronic device even if it is outside their local authority provided the location of the target is unknown or if the person is using an anonymity software like TOR to hide their location.
The change in Rule 41 is being considered as a way to modernize the criminal code, but many organizations find the new rule to give the FBI unwanted advantage over computers and computer networks. Tech giants like Google have also argued that the FBI may use this rule to target not just individual computers but computer networks as well.
Senate Ron Wyden has been vocal about the new rule. He has taken the side of privacy over many other issues in the past few years as well. For now we can only imagine the impact of the rule in international governments and wait to see how things take a turn as the FBI begins to use its newly acquired powers.