close

Judge deems warrants issued by FBI in its honeypot ‘Playpen’ child porn operation as illegal

Judge deems warrants issued by FBI in its honeypot 'Playpen' child porn operation as illegal

FBI Mass Child-Porn ‘Playpen Hack Operation Ruled Illegal on a Technicality

In a major blow to the United States premier investigating agency, a federal judge ruled that the warrants issued by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) during its honey pot Playpen operation as illegal.

Readers may remember that we had reported back in February, 2016, that the FBI ran a massive child porn site in a bid to lure and catch thousands of pedophiles. The dark web website called Playpen which was accessible only through Tor anonymous browser was confiscated by FBI during an anti-child porn operation. The FBI, in all its wisdom, chose to continue to run the massive child porn website as a honeypot operation in order to trap pedophiles registering on it.

Playpen had massive 215,000 registered members so much so that FBI complaint described the site as “the largest remaining known child pornography hidden service in the world.”

After starting to run a honeypot operation, FBI hosted pedophile content in 9,000 files that could be downloaded directly from the FBI’s servers in suburban Washington.

At the end of it, FBI was able to trap only 137 alleged pedophiles from 215,000 registered members on Playpen.

Now a federal judge has ruled that this entire FBI operation was illegal. The only succour for FBI is that the judgement was given based on technicality rather lack of evidence. The decision was based on a violation of jurisdictional rules, not constitutional ones.

Alex Levin, a Massachusetts man and one of the defendants charged with accessing child porn through Playpen, challenged the warrant on these grounds.

The warrant “allowed government agents to conduct a borderless dragnet search with no geographic limitation,” wrote Levin’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, in a court filing.

Current law, Carney added, “simply does not permit a magistrate judge in Virginia to authorize the search of the defendant’s computer located in Massachusetts.”

U.S. District Judge William Young agreed on Wednesday, writing that the warrant “was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void.”

“It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all,” he added. “Since warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable, and the good-faith exception is inapplicable, the evidence must be excluded.”

The judgement now makes it difficult for FBI to prosecute Levin and 136 others charged with pedophile crimes.

FBI has been a strong votary of  need to change the rules so that judges could authorize warrants for electronic searches in multiple locations or even when investigators don’t know the physical location of a device.

But tech companies such as Google, computer scientists and privacy advocates have decried the potential change, which they believe would give the FBI the authority to hack computers with little oversight.

A national court policymaking group already approved the government’s request to change the rules. But both the Supreme Court and Congress must eventually sign off on the change, which would go into effect on Dec. 1 if approved.

Tags : child pornFBIHoneypotillegalOperationPlaypen

4 Comments

  1. No right-thinking person likes child pornography. It has to be stomped out.
    As a father and carer to seven kids I feel the danger everywhere BUT . . .
    Computer privacy is a whole ‘nother matter entirely.
    Authorities however have a completely different view to privacy IE Little or
    none is how they like it.
    Unfortunately I see big brother is creeping up like a slow but inevitable tide
    A time will come and soon enough when ALL citizens data will be captured,
    scanned, scrutinized, geo-located, etc, etc.
    If you see nothing wrong with cameras on every street corner you are part of
    the march forward into . . . an Orwellian future.

  2. Should also point out that the bulk of commercial CP was legally produced as artistic nudes under the law of Ukraine and made with the consent of the girl and her parents. It’s similar to the ‘Spiritual America’ nude photos of Brooke Shields when she was ten, which was deemed legal art in USA, other than the girls are usually even older and pubescent in their teens.

    Of course there are horrific videos produced commercially as well, such as infamous Daisy’s Destruction of a young girl being forced to torture and sexually abuse an infant, but that is the small minority of commercial CP and produced on a small scale by sick individuals rather than large scale production studios like LS and BD were (you can read about them on wikipedia, Ukrainian child porn raids, they finally did get raided by Ukraine at behest of USA but nobody got sent to jail because they made legal artistic nudes by their law and only CP in the eyes of the puritans in the USA).

    In any case even the sickest CP of all there is nothing wrong to look at it. If you use common sense or do investigative research into the matter it is obvious the baseless idea that looking at pictures is bad. Usually people argue that when you look at CP it is like the assault happened all over again, this ignores that massive amounts of CP consist of consensual images of teenagers that are not even legal across the world for starters, but it is also a delusional belief, obviously a photograph is not a magical voodoo doll capable of affecting the person depicted in it merely by viewing it, certainly it does not cause the assault to happen all over again.

    People say there is a multi billion dollar CP industry, but all such claims have been traced back through statistics laundering chains (you can google statistics laundering child porn and see this), in reality commercial CP situation is mostly as I described it.

    People say when CP is looked at it increases the risk of child sex abuse, but the statistical analyses carried out on countries that have legalized viewing CP show a different story, it is indisputable scientific fact that the legalization of viewing CP reduces child sex abuse rates (Milton Diamond has peer reviewed research on this studying several countries and showing the pattern holds in every single country that has legalized child porn).

    There is no good argument for CP viewing to be a serious crime, maybe not even a crime at all tbh.

    I say this as someone who like underage porn fwiw, I like underage teenage, not concerned of FBI though because for one I use Tor and cutting edge security that they cannot penetrate, and for two I’ve only looked at CP in countries without laws against it not in puritan USA with people having their sex hysteria moral panic.

  3. When child porn is legal to view child sex abuse rates actually fall, read the springer published research by milton diamond. Also most child sex abuse is done by the parents you are not in much danger at all your children and should relax. Also the “billion dollar” CP industry is a fabrication that doesn’t actually exist despite people saying it over and over, it is a rumor, it’s really more like a very small couple million dollar industry, and most commercial CP is softcore pictures of underage teenagers posing naked in Eastern Europe, or stuff people grab from P2P networks for free and add a logo to them sell for money.

    Pretty much everything you think you know about CP is a lie, it’s similar to the people who believe the drug war propaganda.

Leave a Response