A final attempt by a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to allow a vote to block a new rule that grants federal agents armed with a single search warrant the authority to hack millions of Americans’ computers or smartphones at once failed, and Rule 41 went into effect today.
Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., made a last-ditch effort to delay the broad new government hacking authority, asking the Senate to pass or vote on three separate measures to block or delay the new set of rules that would broadly expand government hacking authority without any Congressional input or hearing.
The bipartisan group of senators had repeatedly asked for hearings to consider potentially sweeping changes to how the government can hack, search or size Americans’ personal phones, computers and other devices.
“By sitting here and doing nothing, the Senate has given consent to this expansion of government hacking and surveillance,” Wyden said. “Law-abiding Americans are going to ask ‘what were you guys thinking? when the FBI starts hacking victims of a botnet hack. Or when a mass hack goes awry and breaks their device, or an entire hospital system and puts lives at risk.”
“We can’t give unlimited power for unlimited hacking – putting Americans’ civil liberties at risk,” Senator Daines stated.
Sen. Wyden first asked the Senate to pass his Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Daines, to block the rules from taking effect. Sen. Coons followed by asking unanimous consent to pass his Review the Rule Act, to delay the changes for 6 months.
After those requests were rejected, Sen. Wyden asked for a vote on just a 3-month delay, through his Stalling Mass Damaging Hacking Act, which was also denied by Republican leaders.