State sanctioned hacking?

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State sanctioned hacking?The US Supreme Court has announced a procedural change which will allow magistrates to issue search warrants to access and investigate computers which are outside their immediate jurisdiction. The reasoning behind this is to enable the judiciary to pursue those who perpetrate crime across different states, exploiting legal border restrictions. A key inclusion of this new procedure is the ability of law enforcement to remotely access any number of computers without the need to either physically obtain them or filing a search warrant for each individual machine. Some are concerned this step is officially sanctioning state hacking.

One of the recent cases being cited as examples of why the change is necessary involved child pornography. In this instance involving child exploitation, a court wanted to use remote means to identify users of a site but was unable to do so as these users were potentially located outside the court’s jurisdiction. However worthy the fight against child exploitation may be, the proposed changes don’t pertain to these cases alone. The possibility of authorities being able to access a large number of devices involved in a cyber crime – including those of victims – is another reason why critics are lobbying for more scrutiny of the privacy aspects of this change. Security experts have raised numerous concerns about the finer detail and workability of this proposed development and are calling for Congress to become involved before the amendment goes onto the statute books.

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