Google Criticizes New FBI Surveillance Proposal

Monday, February 23, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Google has come out against a new plan by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to authorize remote searches of computers by federal authorities, calling the effort legalized hacking.


In a letter (pdf) to the obscure Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules, Google objected to the FBI’s move to broaden federal powers over digital searches and seizures. The change would amount to U.S. “government hacking of any facility” in the world. Currently, judges can authorize searches only in the district in which they serve. The FBI is asking that any federal judge can authorize a search anywhere.


Google further stated that the plan would raise “monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide.”

The committee is a little-known Washington collective of judges and others who rule on changes to regulations governing the FBI. Google and other critics contend the changes are too substantive to be considered by the committee alone and that Congress should decide what to do with them.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the changes could violate the Fourth Amendment banning unreasonable searches and seizures. “The government is seeking a troubling expansion of its power to surreptitiously hack into computers, including using malware,” Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU’s principal technologist, told The Guardian. “Although this proposal is cloaked in the garb of a minor procedural update, in reality it would be a major and substantive change that would be better addressed by Congress.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Google Warns of U.S. Government ‘Hacking Any Facility’ in the World (by Ed Pilkington, The Guardian)

Google Inc. Comments on the Proposed Amendment to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 (Google) (pdf)

Director Comey Admits FBI does Conduct Surveillance without a Warrant (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

NSA Invaded Google and Yahoo Global Data Centers to Access Hundreds of Millions of Accounts (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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