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.