Large-Scale FBI Hacking
As part of a child pornography investigation, the FBI hacked into over 1,300 computers.
But after Playpen was seized, it wasn’t immediately closed down, unlike previous dark web sites that have been shuttered” by law enforcement. Instead, the FBI ran Playpen from its own servers in Newington, Virginia, from February 20 to March 4, reads a complaint filed against a defendant in Utah. During this time, the FBI deployed what is known as a network investigative technique (NIT), the agency’s term for a hacking tool.
While Playpen was being run out of a server in Virginia, and the hacking tool was infecting targets, “approximately 1300 true internet protocol (IP) addresses were identified during this time,” according to the same complaint.
The FBI seems to have obtained a single warrant, but it’s hard to believe that a legal warrant could allow the police to hack 1,300 different computers. We do know that the FBI is very vague about the extent of its operations in warrant applications. And surely we need actual public debate about this sort of technique.
Also, “Playpen” is a super-creepy name for a child porn site. I feel icky just typing it.