Thursday, February 19, 2015

goo-gol crying about the FBI's push for more intelligent law enforcement...,


nationaljournal |   Google is warning that the government's quiet plan to expand the FBI's authority to remotely access computer files amounts to a "monumental" constitutional concern. The search giant submitted public comments earlier this week opposing a Justice Department proposal that would grant judges more leeway in how they can approve search warrants for electronic data.

The push to change an arcane federal rule "raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide," wrote Richard Salgado, Google's director for law enforcement and information security.

The provision, known as Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, generally permits judges to grant search warrants only within the bounds of their judicial district. Last year, the Justice Department petitioned a judicial advisory committee to amend the rule to allow judges to approve warrants outside their jurisdictions in cases where authorities are unsure where a computer is located.

Google, in its comments, blasted the desired rule change as overly vague, saying the proposal could authorize remote searches on the data of millions of Americans simultaneously—particularly those who share a network or router—and cautioned it rested on shaky legal footing.
 
"The serious and complex constitutional concerns implicated by the proposed amendment are numerous and, because of the nature of Fourth Amendment case law development, are unlikely to be addressed by courts in a timely fashion," Salgado wrote.

The Justice Department has countered that the rule change amounts to a small-scale tweak of protocol, one that is necessary to align search-warrant procedures with the realities of modern technology. In its own comments, the Justice Department accused some opponents of the rule change of "misreading the text of the proposal or misunderstanding current law."

"The proposal would not authorize the government to undertake any search or seizure or use any remote search technique not already permitted under current law," Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower said in a memorandum written late last year and made public Tuesday. He added that investigators are "careful to avoid collateral damage when executing remote searches, just as [they are] careful to avoid injury to persons or damage to property in the far more common scenario of executing physical warrants."