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New judicial rule poses massive privacy threat

Ever hear of Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure? Neither has practically anyone else, including Members of Congress. Unless Congress says “wait” before Dec. 1, it will grant federal law enforcement authorities sweeping new powers to remotely hack into computers or computer systems – maybe yours or your library’s — to neutralize a cybersecurity threat that they think those computers are helping to distribute.

Computer code with the words Date Breach and Cyber Attack highlighted

Congress has until just December 1 to pass a bill delaying that effective date of the new Rule so it can at least hold a hearing on the intended and unintended consequences of this potentially disruptive, privacy-invasive new Rule. That bill is the “Review the Rule Act” (S.3475; H.R.6341), which would delay the implementation of changes to Rule 41 until July 1, 2017.

There’s still time to stop Rule 41 from going into effect without Congressional scrutiny, but not much! Please, tell your Congressperson and both of your Senators to cosponsor and vote for the Review the Rule Act without delay.

(For more details about Rule 41 and the serious problems that its adoption could produce, please see this November 21 article in The Hill newspaper and the letter just sent to House and Senate leaders by ALA and 25 others to which it refers.)

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This content was written by the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office. Please be in touch if you have any questions:

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