Privacy SOS

Hacking Team CEO on FBI campaign to loosen rules on government hacking: “very well advised”

One of Italian spyware firm Hacking Team's millions of emails now posted online is a message from its CEO, David Vincenzetti, to a list of what appears to be clients and potential clients. The March 2015 message links to a story in National Journal about the FBI's plan to change a federal rule to grant judges more leeway in approving warrants for electronic surveillance achieved through hacking. Rule 41 currently only allows judges to approve warrants for searches that will take place in the geographic area inside their judicial district. The FBI wants to change the rule so that judges in New York can authorize electronic surveillance or hacking of computers anywhere in the world—a massive expansion of executive power the ACLU and other civil liberties groups oppose.

Here's what Hacking Team's CEO had to say about the FBI's plans, which if successful would almost undoubtedly boost the company's profits in the US:

"America: a resolute and very well advised initiative."

One of the recipients of the email, Caleb Patten at the Navy's NCIS Cyber Field Office, replied, "Thanks for the great news articles. Keep them coming. I only wish I had more time to read them all. I'm in the Washington, DC area and would like to stop in to see what [Hacking Team] is up to these days. I've forgotten the name of the [Hacking Team] person I met years ago at a conference."

Hacking Team's CEO forwarded Patten's email to someone in the sales department, commenting: "It's yours!"

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.