Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

ACLU Sues to Learn Protocols for Government Hacking

In these modern times of smartphones and the internet of things, it doesn't surprise many people at all that governments are involved in hacking. And it's not just foreign governments.

U.S. law enforcement has been hacking criminals, particularly cyber-criminals, for years now. Unfortunately for the criminals and the public, not much is known about the methods being used and what protocols are in place to prevent abuse. To remedy this lack of information, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit seeking to uncover what policies govern the FBI, ICE, and the DEA's use of hacking technologies and techniques. The FOIA case is seeking transparency in an otherwise covert area of law enforcement.

Individual Privacy From Government Hacking

Even though some of the more public examples of government hacking involve breaking up criminal enterprises, countless innocent bystanders (or web-surfers) have been impacted by government hacking. As explained by Ars Technica, in a government sting operation in 2013, users of a certain website were all infected with malware.

Although courts seem to be more in favor of requiring warrants when exigent circumstances are not present, law enforcement and the public need to know where the lines are drawn, and what online conduct will subject individuals to warranted or justifiable surveillance.

Government Hacking Hackers

In the world we now live in, it's clear that the threat of hacking is coming from everywhere. Not only does the government have to worry about hackers targeting the public, the government and government officials have become prime targets for hackers as well, especially those hackers involved in espionage.

For law enforcement, it may only seem fair to use the same tools that hackers use against criminals, but in the end, when proper protocols are not developed and followed, or kept a secret from the world, the risk of law enforcement abusing those tools increases.

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