Google opposes global search powers for US law enforcement

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Google opposes global search powers for US law enforcement

Fears feds hacking computers and facilities overseas.

A proposed amendment to substantially relax United States legal procedures governing technology-related search warrants raises monumental and highly complex constitutional and geopolitical concerns, according to Google.

The proposal removes the requirement for prosecutors to obtain search and seizure warrants in the same area that the target person or property is located in.

Under a proposed amendment to the US Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, a court within any district where a crime may have occurred can issue warrants that authorise remote access for searches of data that could be located in or outside the area in question.

Two criteria have to be satisfied for the warrant to be issued - one which dictates that the information law enforcement is after has been concealed through technological means.

Google argued that lawful encryption technology and virtual private networks could be covered by the condition.

It wrote in its submission [PDF] that the criteria for issuance of warrants meant remote searches of media and information may take place anywhere in the world, and could violate the sovereignty of other countries.

The company also said controversial, bulk-hacking techniques using malware implants - so-called network investigative techniques that US law enforcement has employed over the past decade - could be used for the searches.

"There are a myriad of serious concerns accompanying the government's use of NITs," Google wrote in its submission, pointing to sample warrants that permitted unspecified malware to be installed to remotely access systems and collect arbitrary information.

"In short, 'remote access' seems to authorise government hacking of any facility wherever located," Google wrote.

Google urged the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules to reject the proposed amendment, and leave any expansion of the US government's investigative and technological tools to Congress to decide.

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