The people d.b.a. "FBI" and other so-called law enforcement agencies just got expanded powers to mass hack into millions of people's devices. Their maik pretext for this power grab was to aid victims of botnets and malware.
Some folks have publicly welcomed this power grab on the basis of that pretext. They believe Rule 41 is going to be imposed on people because a "benevolent" FBI needed the power to mass attack many devices to fix those which were hacked already.
These folks are deluded, useful idiots. They have have been misled into confusing pretext with motive.
So how do we know this?
Quite simple, actually. The text of Rule 41 allows people in the FBI to attack users of VPNs, Tor, and any other privacy-preserving technology. There is no condition that those victims of FBI must have a hacked device prior to the FBI hacking them. There is no condition that there be any evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing by those victims. All that is needed is the signature of a judge, then they are free to hack their victims and leave spyware on their computer.
Now, you'd think perhaps the judge is obligated to follow normal warrant granting rules, acting as a check on what FBI can do. Well, wrong: for these signatures, the judge does not need to obey the usual rules limiting warrants to specific searches, specific individuals, and reasonable suspicion.
So, everything that signature authorizes, FBI can hack, completely bypassing any sort of established and expected privacy protections and legal procedures for evidence gathering, subpoenas and warrants. Of course, they can then use whatever they find against their victims of their hacking, and — as usual — they have immunity against damages they do in the course of hacking their victims.
- The authorization extends to so much more than just "fixing hacked devices".
- The authorization violates legal norms that exist to protect people's privacy and effects.
These two facts are prima facie evidence that the pretext given for Rule 41 does not align with / support the actual activities — all activities, let's not forget, that would be considered feloniously criminal if you or I did them — which people in the government authorized for themselves under Rule 41.
I forget who it was — I think it may have been Carl Jung — who said that, when you do not understand someone's actions (perhaps when those actions are inconsistent with the reasons they give for the actions) what you must do is infer their actual goals from the actions and the effects of those actions. I think that's a solid heuristic, and I try to apply it every time I don't understand someone.
So what are the effects of the actions in this case? Well, people who wanted the powers of Rule 41 for themselves get additional power to violate people's property and privacy, without their victims finding out about this violation, without recourse for these victims, and without having to even hint at any wrongdoing, prior to them violating their victims.
Once again, a little bit of critical thinking goes a long way. In this case, critical thinking has allowed us to understand that the pretext they gave for the need of Rule 41 is bullshit, because the actual powers that Rule 41 give them are incongruent with the pretext. In other words: the pretext is bullshit meant to obscure the actual motive: power and control.
It's the all-too-predictable State in action — criminalize an act by claiming it would be wrong to do it, then make a farcical exception to do it for themselves.
Here's a thought experiment.
Suppose I'm a psychopathic, power-hungry, yet charismatic lawmaker in power.
Imagine I want to enact a law. Let's call it Rule 72.
On its face, this law of mine prescribes rape test kits be available and perhaps administered to victims of rape. Sounds like a real nice and compassionate thing to do for rape victims, right?
That is my pretext to get the law that I want. That is what I will use as puppet show to distract people.
Now, to this law, I add a separate clause. This clause dictates that people out of wedlock who have sex — an act which, according to my law, we will call "indicia of illicit sex" — must also undergo a rape kit examination, whether they are aware of the examination or not. Of course, if the examination can be done while they are unconscious, all the better, as it's "better" they never find out that they were subjected to the exam. Whatever information those administering the test discover about their subjects (victims?) while they administer the test, can and will be used against them, whether that information is or isn't related to the purpose of the test. Finally, as it naturally goes for any other law enforcement activity, my law also prescribes immunity for those who administer this rape test¹ whenever they get caught in the act by their victims.
While I'm busy proselytizing the law, I repeatedly mention the benefits of having free rape kits available for anyone who was an unfortunate victim of rape. I keep telling this to media, who then repeat this message for the public to hear. I never discuss the other, pesky part of the law, of course. However, from time to time, there are people who express concerns about that part. To the extent that it is possible, I ignore those concerns; if I find myself cornered, I simply tell people that the problem with "illicit sex" is truly minor, and I suggest those folks engaging in "illicit sex" shouldn't be doing to begin with — to imply, of course, that they had those secret rape kit exams coming. Doesn't matter, though — whatever people say, I keep stressing the point that these silly objections shouldn't stop us from enjoying the fantastic benefits that my Rule 72 will bring to actual rape victims. Rape is a huge problem, after all — don't you want to help rape victims?
Critical thinking questions:
Is my motive to help people?
Or is it just a pretext, with my actual motive being blatant violation of others, and totalitarian control of them?
Am I an honest and empathetic individual? Or am I just a lying control-freak sack of shit?
The answer is left as an exercise for you, my dear reader.
¹ Perhaps you thought I was joking about legal rape?