The search engine giant is boldly opposing any move by the US Justice Department for expanding the powers of the FBI of searching and seizing digital data. Google warns that if the changes are implemented, the US government would be able to hack any facility in the world. The company made a strongly worded submission about the proposed changes, which are being considered by a Washington committee. In its submission, Google has said that ‘highly complex and monumental constitutional geopolitical and legal concerns’ would be raised if the powers of the FBI given in search warrants is increased so the Congress should be allowed to make the decision.
As per the warning given by the search engine giant, the updated proposals would give the FBI agents the authority to conduct covert raids on servers regardless of their location, which would mean that the US government would have clear and global access to huge amounts of private information. Google has sounded the alarm in particular over the desire of the FBI to search those computers ‘remotely’ that have concealed their location by obscuring their IP addresses or via encryption with the aid of anonymity services. Google said that such government searches could be done in any part of the world.
The US technology giant is that this threat is not simply theoretical because under the proposed amendment and due to the nature of today’s technology, the warrants would allow the US government to conduct searches outside of the US as well. The search giant raised its objections in a public consultation that drew to a close on Tuesday. The Advisory Committee on Criminal rules will consider the objections made by Google and 37 other interested parties. This party may be obscure, but it is powerful and comprises mostly of judges that have control over federal rules that also pertain to the FBI’s actions.
Warrants in a Digital World
When wishing to search a property, federal agents are required to apply for a warrant to a judge. Rule 41 is the existing rule, which states the authorizing judge has to be in the same location as the property that’s the target of the search. According to the argument made by the Justice Department, this is no longer suitable in today’s modern computer age. It wants to widen the scope of the warrants so the FBI would have the authority to search the property, including computers, outside the district of the judge.
It has been argued by the FBI this new power is crucial in those investigations where criminals have hidden the location of their computer networks. The Justice Department has attempted to assuage the anxiety over its proposed changes stating that this new type of warrant would only be sought by the FBI agents when they would have probable cause to search and seize the instrumentalities and fruits of crime. Nevertheless, they haven’t managed to convince the legal groups and civil liberties that claim that the vague language used in the amendment would have huge global implications.