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Computer Hacking Warrants: DOJ Proposes Changes to Law

Posted on in Criminal Law

Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney, computer hacking, Fourth Amendment, illegal search and seizure, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, install malware, install spyware software, Law Offices of Scott F. Anderson, probable cause, Rule 41, U.S. Department of Justice, unreasonable searches and seizuresThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted proposed changes to the law which would make it easier for law enforcement to obtain warrants in order to hack into a criminal suspect’s computer. The proposed changes were presented to the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules. The federal search warrant rules are known as "Rule 41."

According to the DOJ, the biggest hindrances they run into when trying to execute a warrant for a suspect’s computer is when the location of the computer is unknown or the suspect has multiple computers. Members of the committee, while debating the DOJ’s proposal, pointed out that the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, requires warrants to "particularly" describe the item to be searched. The Fourth Amendment reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Allowing warrants for a computer that law enforcement could not provide a location or IP address for could violate that part of the amendment. The DOJ’s response to that concern was that would be an issue that would need to be decided by the courts. If approved, law enforcement would be able to obtain a warrant from a district court where activities related to a crime had occurred, but not where the suspect’s computer or computers were located. The warrant would be executed remotely. One way law enforcement could execute the warrant is via sending an email. This email would be embedded with a code that would install spyware software onto the recipient’s computer. Another example in which warrants could be remotely executed is by installing malware directly on a website, such as a child porn site, that would collect the identities of visitors to that website. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime based on an illegal search and seizure, contact an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney to make sure that your rights are protected in the courtroom.

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