Bipartisan Bill Introduced in the House to Stop Government Surveillance and Hacking

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Washington, May 27, 2016 | Elizabeth Peace (202.225.7742) | comments

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), along with Congressman Blake Fahrenthold (R-TX) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), introduced H.R. 5321 the Stop Mass Hacking Act today. This is the companion bill to legislation introduced on the Senate side by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY). The Department of Justice has recently moved to make an administrative rule change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would give the government the ability to hack the computers of a massive amount of American citizens just by obtaining a single warrant.  If Congress does not act by December 1, 2016, this change will be in effect. The Stop Massive Hacking Act prevents these changes to Rule 41 from going into effect.

“Government does not have the authority to unilaterally legalize widespread government hacking,” said Rep. Poe.  “Americans have rights. It is Congress’ responsibility to safeguard the constitutional rights of the people they represent from a power hungry Executive Branch. As such, we are moving to stop this change that condones hacking the property of the very people we are entrusted to protect.”

“I stand by the Stop Mass Hacking Act because I am not yet convinced that the proposed changes to Rule 41 are wise or necessary,” said Rep. Conyers. “This rule change is designed to streamline investigative techniques that allow law enforcement to gain unauthorized access and control to remote computer systems.  Until Congress has had an opportunity to examine this proposal in detail—and until we have adequately addressed the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues—this rule change should not take effect.”

“This bill hits pause on a new rule which facilitates hacking of foreign entities and hijacking devices owned by the victims of malware attacks without their permission,” said Rep. Lofgren.  “These troubling activities, and the international, privacy, and security ramifications which may arise as a result, deserve serious deliberation and debate in Congress.”

“We’re in the midst right now of one of the biggest battles in the privacy world that we have faced,” said Rep Farenthold. “Because of the horrendous terrorist attacks we’ve witnessed, there’s a willingness to give up some of our freedoms and privacy in order to feel safe. That’s completely understandable, but if we keep down this path, we’re going to wake up in a few years in George Orwell’s ‘1984.’ This is why, as we fight for security, the intrusion on privacy necessary to fight the war on terror needs to be narrowly tailored and aggressively overseen.”

“Representatives Poe, Conyers, Farenthold and Lofgren are leading the fight to protect Americans’ freedoms by introducing the Stopping Mass Hacking Act in the House of Representatives,” said Senator Wyden. “They’re proof that a growing, bipartisan coalition agrees that this expansion of the government’s hacking and surveillance authority simply goes too far.”

Read a one-page summary and bill text of the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act.

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