At present, agencies involved in law enforcement can only apply for a warrant from a judge to search a computer if the machine itself is in the same jurisdiction as the judge issuing the warrant. However, the Justice Department is now looking to change this requirement, which is known as Rule 41, and is asking that judges be allowed to issue warrants to search or initiate surveillance on computers, not only wherever the actual computer is in the United States but anywhere in the world.
This will make it significantly easier for the FBI to obtain a warrant to hack into computers wherever they are in the world.
The reason behind the move is that criminals are using technology more and more, especially to conceal who they are and where they are, but FBI intelligence agents can hack into their systems and having installed malware they can track the activity and download the contents of the machine.
Civil Liberties organizations say that this amendment to Rule 41 is a potential violation of the Fourth Amendment, which states that citizens should be protected from unreasonable searches by the government. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that if the amendment were to be passed the government would become even more aggressive in their use of surveillance software, which was already pretty much unregulated.
FBI Director James Comey is obviously keen to enable the FBI to be able to carry out surveillance whenever and wherever necessary and has already criticized both Apple and Google who are working on new products which will be harder to hack into. He has said that these products will make it more difficult for law enforcement to find and catch criminals, and highlighted that on a daily basis there are people who are very grateful that members of the FBI can access a computer belonging to a kidnapper or a terrorist.