Tor finally broke their silence on September 12th concerning the proposed amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, as Tor fervently opposed the idea in its entirety.
The amendments could be the end of online privacy and anonymity for everyone as it would give the law enforcement the power to hack or conduct surveillance on any computer regardless of the jurisdiction as long as a there is an issued search warrant.
Right under the Scope
It is clear why these amendments did not sit right with Tor as it.
The amendments seek to eradicate the concealment of online data by giving the FBI the express consent to hack into people’s personal devices and computers to alter, erase or access private data.
Senator Ron Wyden voiced his concerns on the Senate floor and beseeched his counterparts to contemplate the implications of the proposed changes on the privacy of the American citizens.
Wyden, who had previously introduced the Stop Mass Hacking Act bill earlier in May, he pointed out that it was the Senate’s responsibility to limit the government’s hacking and surveillance powers.
His bill actively opposed the proposed amendments to Rule 41.
The Threat to Privacy
Aside from the infamous criminal underbelly that makes up a significant percentage of Tor users, it is also a platform where activists, human rights workers, and journalists can comfortably communicate while being cloaked by the impenetrable anonymity offered by Tor.
On a side note Tor’s anonymity can be increased by this a VPN. Please use this guide: https://darkwebnews.com/tor-guide/
If the proposed amendments come to pass, the FBI will not only have the power to hack into a personal computer, they will also be allowed to install malware into the said computer.
This will make the system more vulnerable, leaving the user totally exposed to both malicious and non-malicious entities.
Network Investigative Technique (NIT)
This scenario reminds us of a case about a Vancouver teacher who was charged with the alleged possession of child pornographic content which he downloaded from a dark web site that the FBI had seized earlier.
After the seizure of the site known as Playpen, the FBI had employed counter measures by installing a malware that would automatically implant itself on the visitor’s computer before relaying their IP addresses to the law enforcement.
The highly effective Network Investigative Technique (otherwise known as NIT) is however buried in so much red tape that it will not be allowed to feature the evidence collected by the malware in any ongoing trial.
The Tor Project were not pleased when they knew about the malware, they wanted to learn more about it in order to cover up any vulnerabilities it might exploit on the Tor network.
Ongoing Surveillance Wars
This is not the first tussle between the FBI and the public concerning privacy and surveillance.
Earlier this year, they had a similar row with Apple following the retrieval of an iPhone from a dead terrorist.
The main concern from Tor with the proposed amendments to Rule 41 is that some tech-savvy individuals in the higher government ranks might be taking advantage of the less informed who do not fully understand the ramifications of the proposed amendments.
Tor Remains Resolute
Tor Project speculated that the proposed amendment is the work of a few knowledgeable officials seeking to expand their power over literally millions of people.
Tor also had an insight that they wanted to point out, and this is the unfair vantage point that the government has over this information.
Not to mention the possibility of it being misused when left in the wrong hands.
Tor encouraged its users in a tweet to push their senators to oppose the proposal vehemently.
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