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Google fights rule that would let the US hack devices worldwide

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
February 19, 2015
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The US is already snooping on computers around the world, but Google is worried that it might be sneaking in a rule change that would sanction more nosy behavior. The search firm has filed comments protesting an advisory committee proposal that would let the government get warrants for "remote access" to phones and PCs when their locations are hidden "through technological means." While the change is ostensibly targeted at American suspects masking their connections or running botnets, Google is worried that the proposal is worded such that it would allow law enforcement to hack into devices worldwide without any real political debate on the subject. After all, someone on a virtual private network could easily be in another country -- you might not know until you've broken in.

Google adds that the initiative could hurt the government as much as it helps. The US wants to improve legal cooperation between countries, but it might "undermine" that effort if it gives itself the authority to compromise foreign phones and PCs in some circumstances. Congress and the President should be the ones to look at a policy that could damage foreign relations, Google says. It's not certain that the committee will acknowledge these concerns, but it's clear that the folks in Mountain View aren't going to let the feds slip anti-privacy measures under the radar.

[Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

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