A controversial proposed judicial rule change allowing judges to issue warrants to conduct “remote access” against a target computer regardless of its location has been approved by a United States Courts committee, according to the Department of Justice.
Federal agents have been known to use such tactics in past and ongoing cases: a Colorado federal magistrate judge approved sending malware to a suspect’s known e-mail address in 2012. But similar techniques have been rejected by other judges on Fourth Amendment grounds. If this rule revision were to be approved, it would standardize and expand federal agents’ ability to surveil a suspect and to exfiltrate data from a target computer regardless of where it is. (Both the United States Army and the Drug Enforcement Administration are known to have purchased such exploits, most likely zero-days.)
In the United States, federal warrants are issued by judges who serve one of the 94 federal judicial districts and are typically only valid for that particular jurisdiction. Typically those warrants are limited to the district in which they are issued.
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