Judge Throws Out PlayPen Evidence As FBI Refuses To Disclose Details

The story regarding the FBI hacking Tor to infect the PlayPen platform is not over just yet. A judge excluded the evidence presented by the law enforcement agency after they refused to detail how they hacked the website in the first place.

Not So Fast, FBI Hackers!

TheMerkle_Judge PlayPen  FBI Hack Tor

In an earlier article, we mentioned how the FBI did not plan to disclose their method for breaching Tor and unleashing malware on the PlayPen platform. According to the defense attorney, the method used by law enforcement could show they received unreliable information. Moreover, the are concerns the FBI went beyond the jurisdiction aspect of the warrant itself.

Judge Robert J. Bryan, who initially demanded the FBI reveal their hacking practices, declared the evidence invalid and excluded it from the case against Jay Michaud. This news comes as quite a surprise, considering the FBI had managed to get a judge to overrule that demand, and they did not have to disclose the method. 

Judge Robert J. Bryan stated:

“Evidence of the NIT, the search warrant issued based on the NIT, and the fruits of that warrant should be excluded and should not be offered in evidence at trial.”

Whether or not this is due to mounting pressure by privacy advocates on how government hacking should not be used as evidence in court, remains to be seen. Such evidence raises a lot of questions regarding its validity, as well as where this trend will end up if law enforcement can get a warrant to hack anything and anyone.

Given the FBI’s stance on how presenting the method of their hack should not diminish the validity of the evidence, it remains strange they did not do so. Their Network Investigation Technique remains shrouded in mystery for the time being, yet the refusal to reveal details may lead to future cases being thrown out. Additionally, this may – or should – result in reinvestigating the methods used to arrest other deep web members over the past few years.

Rest assured the US government has already come up with a new proposal to address this issue, though. The US Senate is considering changing the federal judicial rules, which would let any judge sign warrants for law enforcement hacking purposes. In fact, those warrants would be useful for targeting computers outside their jurisdiction, such as any device running anonymity or privacy software.

Source: CNET

Images credit 1,2

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