Government hacking is a method of remotely and covertly surveilling computer users in order to gather evidence. Criminal defense attorneys in New York and the rest of the country now have strategies for attempting to get the evidence that is obtained in this manner excluded.
Attorneys at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have released a report that details methods for addressing law enforcement hacking. The report is intended to help individuals who are victims of the government malware and to assist their attorneys with their defense by challenging how the evidence was obtained.
Due to a change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, federal agents have the authority to use one warrant to place thousands of computers under remote surveillance. They do not have to specify who is being targeted or where they are located. Opponents of the method believe that the change will cause the use of the tactic to increase and are focused on providing attorneys with the information that is pertinent to protecting the rights of their clients and to make sure that the hacking conducted by law enforcement adhere to the Constitution and applicable federal statutes.
One notable government hacking campaign in 2016 involved the FBI using seized servers suspected of hosting child pornography as a vehicle to hack into the users that accessed the site. Almost 9,000 devices in 120 countries were targeted. Many of the hundreds of suspects who were charged are challenging the legality of the single warrant used for the surveillance.
A criminal defense attorney will work to protect clients’ rights when challenging allegations of wrongdoing. The attorney may examine the factors surrounding a case and may seek to have illegally obtained evidence suppressed.