FBI tactic in national child porn sting under attack

FBI tactic in national child porn sting under attack
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When “teddybear555” logged onto The Playpen, a “dark web” child-pornography bulletin board, from a home in Tennessee last year, he had no idea his host was the FBI.

Neither did the tens of thousands of other users across the U.S. and the world who, in the two weeks the FBI played the role of child pornography purveying host, posted or swapped at least 48,000 images and 200 videos of the sexual abuse of children. The agency called the sting “Operation Pacifier.” So far, more than 180 people have been arrested in the U.S., including Thomas Allan Scarbrough, a funeral director at Scarbrough Funeral Home in Rockwood, Tenn.

But the FBI isn’t drawing praise for its groundbreaking defeat of technology that affords anonymity to seekers of illicit goods on hidden websites. In court and out, the FBI is taking a beating, with judges across the nation declaring constitutional violations and Internet privacy advocates crying foul.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley has become the latest jurist to deem the FBI’s search warrant process in its takeover of The Playpen server as an illegal search and a violation of federal rules of criminal procedure.

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