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Gizmodo: Justice Department Makes It Easier to Hack Computers

Maddie Stone
Gizmodo

Oh, good. A Department of Justice-proposed rule change that would make it way easier for FBI agents to obtain warrants to hack a computer from basically anywhere was just approved by a US Court committee.

Which is to say, we’re one step closer to having our digital privacy rights eviscerated in the name of federal investigations.

In the old world, federal search warrants are typically only valid within the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials needs to demonstrate probable cause, find the right jurisdiction to petition for a warrant, and notify the person they’re planning on searching. (That last bit is a cornerstone of our Fourth Amendment privacy rights.)

In rare cases, the Feds have gotten permission to legally conduct remote computer searches, outside of the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. To make it easier for the FBI to conduct these sorts of remote hacks and track down criminals who use anonymizing software, the DoJ would now like to expand that power.

Unfortunately, the latest bright idea for doing so amounts to a massive shit all over the Fourth Amendment. Not only would the rule change permit judges to authorize FBI agents to surveil and exfiltrate any suspect’s computer anywhere, the vague language of the rules might make it totally acceptable in certain cases to search our computers without ever telling us.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Dangerous Women in the Criminal World

Dennis Hastert Accused of Agreeing to Pay Millions to Hush Up Sexual Abuse of Male Decades Ago

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Inside the Beltway, a place where shocking revelations have been a way of life over the decades, this one still sent shock waves.

Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times report that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is accused of paying a man not to say publicly that Hastert had inappropriately touched him decades ago while Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois. The Times cites two unnamed people briefed on the evidence uncovered in an F.B.I. probe.

The feds have accused Hastert of making cash withdrawals designed to hide those payments and for lying to federal authorities about the purpose of the withdrawals.

We’re talking serious money.

The Times reports that the indictment said that in 2010, the man met with Mr. Hastert several times and at some point Hastert agreed to pay him $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” the man.

The Times reports that the indictment stunned Hastert’s friends and former Capitol Hill colleagues, and that they were struggling to make sense of it all.

To read the full story click here. 

Help on Way for Alabama Prison Where Female Inmates Raped, Beaten

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the state of Alabama to undergo monitoring and serious reforms following years of complaints about female inmates being sexually assaulted by corrections staff, the Washington Post reports.

An investigation by the Justice Department found that female inmates lived in a “toxic environment” at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., where they have been raped and sodomized.

Prison officials even organized a “strip show” with female prisoners and watched the women use the toilet

Women who complained of the abuse were punished, according to the Justice Department

“Prisoners are entitled to be safe from sexual predation by staff, and to live in an environment free from sexual assault, sexual harassment and the constant fear of these abuses,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The agreement requires the prison to install a “state-of-the-art camera system,” train staff and implement a program to track and analyze complaints.

Other Stories of Interest


FBI Hassles Students for Shooting Video Outside FBI Field Office

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two FBI agents paid a visit to the home of a college student after she and two other journalism students shot video outside of the bureau’s field office in San Diego.

An FBI spokesman said two agents visited the home because they were concerned about people shooting video outside of the bureau without calling ahead like many other journalists do, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. 

First Amendment experts expressed concern with the visit, saying the students did nothing wrong and were intimidated by the agents.

The students said they received permission from a guard to shoot the video, and the guard even took down their drivers’ license information.

But before long, they were told to leave.

FBI Worries about Losing Surveillance Tools Under Expiring Patriot Act

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators are worried they are about to lose surveillance tools that have been valuable in the fight against terrorism.

The Associated Press reports that the surveillance is part of the controversial Patriot Act that offered more investigative tools.

But those tools are at risk because they are set to expire with the Patriot Act on June 1.

Some senators are working on a last-minute agreement that would extend the deadline.

FBI Director James Comey said the surveillance capabilities are important to protect Americans and fight terrorism.

“I sure hope Congress figures out a way to make sure I don’t lose these essential tools,” he said during a visit Tuesday to the New Haven field office.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted for Lying to FBI and Evading Taxes

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert

By CNN

Federal officials have indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert for lying to the FBI and evading taxes as he sought to pay off the subject to “cover up past misconduct.”

The indictment was unsealed in the District Court of Northern Illinois on Thursday. The Justice Department alleges that Hastert made large withdrawals after he agreed to pay an unnamed subject $3.5 million.

The indictment does not explain precisely what the “past misconduct” is, but instead details at length various withdrawals and financial transactions he made with the unidentified subject. The payments occurred over a period of years beginning in 2010 and ending in 2014.

To read more click here.

 

Local Police Help FBI Keep Tabs on Growing Number of Terrorism Suspects

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is struggling to keep track of what appears to be a growing network of ISIS supporters who blend in until the time comes to attack.

CNN reports that then NYPD and other local law enforcement agencies are pitching in to search for and investigate ISIS supporters.

The most recent failure came when a known ISSI supporter who was under investigation by the FBI attacked a Prophet Mohammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas.

FBI Director James Comey said the FBI keeps its eye on hundreds of suspects.

Some NYPD officers who have already been trained in surveillance will help keep track of suspects.

The goal is to add 450 officers to the department’s counterterrorism unit, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said. LAPD also is following suit.

“It’s an extraordinarily difficult challenge task to find — that’s the first challenge — and then assess those who may be on a journey from talking to doing and to find and assess in an environment where increasingly, as the attorney general said, their communications are unavailable to us even with court orders,” Comey said.