Lawyers for Google have complained that a U.S. Department of Justice plan to expand the government's hacking ability is not only unconstitutional but sets a dangerous precedent for the Internet.
Richard Salgado, Google's director for law enforcement and information security, submitted a public comment recently regarding the DOJ's push to update Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal code, which permits judges to grant federal search warrants only within their legal jurisdiction. The DOJ has sought to expand that boundary and thus obtain warrants for computers in an unknown location. Salgado categorized the proposed change as unnecessarily vague, suggesting it could lead to the simultaneous remote search of millions of computers.
Such a change “raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide,” he wrote in the company's public comment. “The serious and complex constitutional concerns implicated by the proposed amendment are numerous and, because of the nature of the Fourth Amendment case law development, are unlikely to be addressed by courts in a timely fashion.”
Though Google was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups, the company is so far the only tech firm to publicly oppose this Justice Department proposal.
How long Google will be alone on this is impossible to determine, though the company was joined by Yahoo and Facebook in its boycott of President Obama's speech on cybersecurity last week at Stanford University. Indeed, opposing the DOJ on the issue of search warrants is just the latest point of contention between prosecutors and Google, which has complained for years that law enforcement powers online are too broad.