OTI Strongly Supports the Stopping Mass Hacking Act (Updated)

Press Release
May 19, 2016

New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) strongly supports the Stopping Mass Hacking Act (S. 2952, also known as the SMH Act), which was introduced today by Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul, with co-sponsors Senators Baldwin, Daines and Tester.  The bill, here, would block new proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure governing search warrants that will automatically go into effect if Congress does not act before December 1st. These proposed changes would explicitly authorize law enforcement to secretly and remotely hack into targeted computers of suspects and victims alike, even when the location of the computer is not known, and potentially reaching thousands or even millions of computers.

OTI urges Congress to pass the Stopping Mass Hacking Act before December 1, so that Congress can fully consider the impacts of the proposed rule on civil liberties and cybersecurity.

The following statement can be attributed to Kevin Bankston, Director of New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“The government hacking proposal that will automatically go into effect unless Congress passes the Stopping Mass Hacking Act represents a serious expansion of law enforcement powers, yet Congress has never had a chance to consider the complex issues raised by such a significant change to the law. Unless Congress acts now, these new government hacking rules will grant the Justice Department dangerous and unprecedented authority to hack millions of Americans, many of whom may only be guilty of being the victim of a malicious cyber attack themselves.”

The following statement can be attributed to Ross Schulman, OTI Senior Counsel and Co-Director of New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative:

“We thank Senators Wyden and Paul for introducing this important bill, which if passed would give Congress the opportunity to seriously investigate the FBI’s current hacking practices, which have lately been the subject of front page news, and give sustained thought this complex issue.  Congress needs to do its job and take the time to consider what rules must be put into place to check the unique risks to civil liberties and cybersecurity that are raised when the government secretly hacks into computers, whether located in the US or overseas.”

Updated May 25, 2015 - OTI also strongly supports the Stop Mass Hacking Act (H.R. 5321), introduced on May 25 in the House. The bill was introduced by  Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) along with Congressman Blake Fahrenthold (R-TX) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). This is the companion bill to legislation introduced on the Senate side by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY).