The FBI doesn’t need a warrant to hack into your computer since PCs get hacked all the time, according to a US Judge. Activists fear the ruling is a dangerous one which could allow law enforcement to remotely seize information without asking for a warrant, probable cause or suspicion.
This controversial stance came to light due to an ongoing legal case which involves the FBI’s crackdown on a child pornography site called Playpen. The agency used network investigative technique (NIT), which basically means malware, to hack into the website and identify visitors based on their IP address.
Senior US District Court Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. has now written that the FBI’s actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which safeguards people from unreasonable search and seizure. His reasoning goes that the government does not need a warrant to capture the defendant’s IP address and other information from the suspect’s computer.
Morgan, Jr. went on to assert that no one should have an expectation of privacy in an IP address when it comes to using the internet. The judge thinks it’s unreasonable to expect a computer connected to the web to be immune from invasion. According to him, today’s digital world guarantees a certainty that all computers going online can and eventually will be hacked.
This is a rather controversial stance to take and makes little logical sense. PCs getting hacked all the time doesn’t mean individuals shouldn’t expect a certain degree of privacy online. Morgan, Jr. thinks even Tor network users who use the platform to specifically hide their IP address shouldn’t expect any kind of protection from invasions of privacy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has come out strongly against the decision in a blog post, terming the ruling dangerously flawed. It further warned of staggering implications which could allow the FBI to remotely search and seize information from a person’s computer without a warrant, probable cause, or any suspicion at all.