The FBI is attempting to circumvent the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution in order to spy on The Onion Network (Tor) and Virtual Proxy Network (VPN) users. According to the Foundation for Economic Education:
The investigative arm of the Department of Justice is attempting to short-circuit the legal checks of the Fourth Amendment by requesting a change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These procedural rules dictate how law enforcement agencies must conduct criminal prosecutions, from investigation to trial. Any deviations from the rules can have serious consequences, including dismissal of a case. The specific rule the FBI is targeting outlines the terms for obtaining a search warrant.
It’s called Federal Rule 41(b), and the requested change would allow law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search electronic data without providing any specific details as long as the target computer location has been hidden through a technical tool like Tor or a virtual private network. It would also allow nonspecific search warrants where computers have been intentionally damaged (such as through botnets, but also through common malware and viruses) and are in five or more separate federal judicial districts. Furthermore, the provision would allow investigators to seize electronically stored information regardless of whether that information is stored inside or outside the court’s jurisdiction.
If the Department of Justice’s request is granted, then it will be in direct conflict with the US Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects US citizens from having their personal effects, which includes electronic devices, from being searched without probable cause or a warrant.