- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2015

Tech giant Google submitted court documents this week charging that a new FBI plan for obtaining digital search warrants is a “monumental” constitutional threat.

Richard Salgado, Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, wrote Tuesday that the Justice Department’s plans for remotely accessing computer files “raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide.”

National Journal reported Wednesday that the federal government wants to make changes to a criminal procedure provision known as Rule 41, which would allow judges to approve warrants outside their jurisdictions.

“The serious and complex constitutional concerns implicated by the proposed amendment are numerous and, because of the nature of Fourth Amendment case law development, are unlikely to be addressed by courts in a timely fashion,” Mr. Salgado wrote.

Google fears the federal government is using vague language that would permit it to spy on millions of Americans simultaneously.

The Justice Department called the company’s fears a “misreading the text of the proposal or misunderstanding current law,” the magazine reported.

“The proposal would not authorize the government to undertake any search or seizure or use any remote search technique not already permitted under current law,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower said in a memorandum written in 2014 but made public this week, National Journal reported.

A decision on Rule 41 is expected to be made within months after a review by the Supreme Court and Congress. Absent any legislation passed to “reject, modify, or defer the rules,” the plan would then go into effect, the Journal reported.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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