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Tag: child pornography

FBI’s Refusal to Release Details of Child Pornography Probe Compromises Case

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI may lose some of its cases against alleged pedophiles because the bureau has refused to release details of how investigators used the Tor network to track suspects.

ZDNet reports that a court overseeing the case against an alleged visitor of the site, Jay Michaud, dismissed evidence as a result.

The cost said the evidence can’t be used because against the Vancouver school administrator.

The FBI seized a website on the dark web last year so that investigators could track who used the site.

Since the FBI won’t reveal the full source code of the website takeover, the evidence isn’t permissible, a court said.

Attorney: FBI Used Best Buy Employee to Perform Warrantless Searches

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Best Buy employee who worked at the company’s repair center served as a paid FBI informant who essentially performed warrantless searches on electronics at the maintenance facility in Kentucky, according to the attorney of a doctor facing child pornography charges.

Since 2009, “the FBI was dealing with a paid agent inside the Geek Squad who was used for the specific purpose of searching clients’ computers for child pornography and other contraband or evidence of crimes,” defense attorney James Riddet claimed in a court filing last month, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Riddet is defending Dr. Mark Albert Rettenmaier, who was indicted in November 2014 on two felony counts of child pornography.

Riddet has asked the judge to dismiss most of the evidence in the case because it was taken during illegal searches by a supervisor at the Geek Squad.

FBI Employee Arrested for Allegedly Tampering with Evidence in Probe Against Husband

handcuffsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI employee was arrested for allegedly tampering with evidence in a child pornography investigation involving her husband.

Local News 8 reports that Jennifer Barnett, 38, of Idaho, was arrested on charges of destroying, altering or concealing evidence.

Authorities said Barnett informed her husband, David Phillips, 41, of the investigation.

Jennifer Barnett was arrested Monday and released on $5,000 bond.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Federal Judge: FBI Improperly Seized Child Pornography Website

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI failed to obtain a proper warrant before hacking a child pornography website, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge William G. Young said evidence against at least one defendant must be suppressed, TechCrunch.com reports.

The FBI seized the child pornography site, Playpen, and continued to run it to get information on the users.

The public defender for one of the defendants in the case, Alex Levin, successful argued that the warrant wasn’t valid because it was issued by a magistrate judge in Virginia. Levin’s computer was at his home in Massachusetts.

“The court concludes that the NIT Warrant was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void,” Young wrote. “It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all.”

Young also expressed concerns about the FBI running a child pornography site.

“Unlike those undercover stings where the government buys contraband drugs to catch the dealers, here the government disseminated child obscenity to catch the purchasers — something akin to the government itself selling drugs to make the sting,” he wrote.

FBI Cyber Security Expert May Dodge Prison for Collecting Child Pornography

Brian Haller

Brian Haller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI cyber security expert who was busted collecting child pornography may dodge jail and be allowed to live across the street from a Seattle elementary school.

Brian Haller, who led an FBI group that fought cybercrime, was arrested after agents discovered that he had used a Tor network site to collect hundred of files of child pornography, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 

Although Haller faces up to five years in prison, federal prosecutors have asked a judge to spare him jail time when he is sentenced Friday for possession of child pornography.

A federal judge will decide whether to grant leniency.

“The sentence suggested by prosecutors is nearly unheard of for child pornography crimes in the region,” The Post-Intelligencer wrote. “Haller would be Western Washington’s first federal child porn convict to catch such a break since the U.S. Sentencing Commission started tracking the crime separately five years ago.”

Judge: FBI Did Not Act ‘Outrageously’ by Taking Over Child Pornography Website

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI did not act “outrageously” by taking control of a child pornography website for 13 days in an attempt to capture people who were  using what authorities said was the largest site of its kind on the dark web, a judge has ruled, the International Business Times reports. 

A man who was charged with child pornography crimes argued the FBI overstepped its authority by taking over the site and using a tool to identify IP and MAC addresses of people who were logging into Playpen.

“We consider [the FBI’s running of the child porn site] outrageous, because even if there is a legitimate argument for doing that as an investigatory need, which is not true, judges need to be able to decide if it is appropriate. And, frankly, we believe it is appalling,” a lawyer for Colin Fieman said, Motherboard reports.

The attorney accused the FBI of “aiding and abetting the uploading and distribution of massive amounts of child pornography.”

Judge Robert J. Bryan disagreed.

“I am not shocked by this. I did not find it outrageous,” the judge said.

“We are dealing with actions by law enforcement that were necessitated by the actions of the offenders choosing to use, and in fact misuse, technology in order to hide their identity while they sought to exploit and abuse children online,”  Keith Becker from the Department of Justice Criminal Division, said.

To Capture Pedophiles Downloading Child Pornography, FBI Agents Turn into Hacker Spies

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents are turning into to hacker spies to capture pedophiles who hide anonymously on the Internet.

CNN reports that the Justice Department launched a massive investigation called Operation Torpedo, which began in 2011 and recently came to a close with the arrests of people downloading child pornography.

The case started when Netherlands police gained access to a large child pornography site whose web hosting service was located in Bellevue, Nebraska.

The FBI raided the home of the man who ran the site, PedoBook, where users could download photos of child pornography.

To break through Tor, which hides users’ location, the FBI was given a search warrant for a “network investigative technique” that allowed agents to use computer codes to track down people who downloaded photos and videos.

FBI Agent Jeffrey Tarpinian describes this hack as “the only available investigative technique with a reasonable likelihood of securing the evidence necessary to prove… the actual location and identity of those users” in court documents from 2012.

What the FBI found was more disturbing than they had realized: Some images were being viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

“They’re hiding in plain sight… we remain powerless to some extent,” said one senior Justice Department official who was authorized to speak without being named. “That’s what creates this sense of urgency.”

FBI Operated Child Pornography Websites to Help Identify Thousands of Hidden Users

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI took over one of the Internet’s largest child pornography websites last year, allowing users to download thousands of images and videos in an effort to identify the culprits.

The USA Today reports that the FBI has taken control of at least three child pornography sites while keeping them online to capture the users who have hidden behind behind an encrypted and anonymous computer network.

The FBI was able to identify hundreds of users by infecting the sites with security-busting software.

The Justice Department confirmed that the FBI operated a site known as Playpen from Feb. 20 to March 4, 2015. During that time, more than 215,000 registered users were able to access more than 23000 sexually explicit videos and pictures of children.

Authorities said the new tactic of maintaining the sites allowed them to identify people who otherwise couldn’t be tracked.

“We had a window of opportunity to get into one of the darkest places on Earth, and not a lot of other options except to not do it,” said Ron Hosko, a former senior FBI official who was involved in planning one of the agency’s first efforts to take over a child porn site. “There was no other way we could identify as many players.”

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