The Legality of Government Hacking

As you most likely know, the government has access to almost every piece of technology and software out there.  They also have the capability to hack into devices and/or systems if there is a reason and warrant for it.  This brings forth questions and other uncertainties of privacy by some.  A new report has been released regarding this in hopes that policies change.  Learn more about this in the article below.

March 30, 2017 | By Karen Gullo

New Report Aims to Help Criminal Defense Attorneys Challenge Secretive Government Hacking

Lawyers at EFF, the ACLU, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report
today outlining strategies for challenging law enforcement hacking, a
technique of secretly and remotely spying on computer users to gather
evidence. Federal agents are increasingly using this surveillance
technique, and the report will help those targeted by government
malware—and importantly their attorneys—fight to keep illegally-obtained
evidence out of court.
 
A recent change in little-known federal criminal court procedures,
which was quietly pushed by the Justice Department, has enabled federal
agents to use a single warrant to remotely search hundreds or thousands
of computers without having to specify whose information is being
captured or where they are. We expect these changes to result in much
greater use of the technique, and the guide will arm attorneys with
information necessary to defend their clients and ensure that law
enforcement hacking complies with the Constitution and other laws.
 
In the largest known government hacking campaign
to date, the FBI seized servers running a website accused of hosting
child pornography and, instead of shutting down the site, continued to
operate it. Relying on a single warrant,
the FBI then hacked into users that accessed the site, totaling nearly
9,000 devices located in 120 countries around the world. The FBI charged
hundreds of suspects who visited the website, several of whom are
challenging the validity of the warrant. In briefs filed in these cases,
EFF says that the warrant that enabled this massive hacking exercise is
unconstitutional and evidence gathered using it should be suppressed.

As with every new surveillance power obtained by the government, it’s
just a matter of time before these secret malware attacks are used in
other cases. That’s why it’s important for criminal defense attorneys to
get educated about how these attacks work and how they can vigorously
defend their clients rights when the technique is used.
 
The report, “Challenging Government Hacking in Criminal Cases,”
explains how to recognize the use of government malware in a criminal
case, and it outlines the most important and potentially effective
procedural and constitutional arguments to raise when hacking was used
to gather evidence. Our hope is that the guide will help attorneys fight
back against illegal surveillance, and ultimately place important and
needed checks on the government’s ability to hack into our personal
electronic devices.