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The FBI Defends Deploying Malware From A Tor Child Porn Site

An anonymous reader writes:
The FBI issued a press release about the 30-year prison sentence for a 58-year-old Florida man running “the world’s largest child pornography website, with more than 150,000 users around the world.” But their investigation involved what Gizmodo describes as “a decision controversial to this day” — taking over the child pornography site and running it “for almost two weeks while distributing malware designed to unmask its visitors.” Thursday the FBI described it as “a court-approved network investigative technique” which led to more than 1,000 leads in the U.S. and “thousands more” for law enforcement partners in other countries, leading to arrests in the EU, Israel, Turkey, Peru, Malaysia, Chile, and the Ukraine. Those 1,000 U.S. leads led to “at least 350 U.S-based individuals arrested”, as well as actual prosecutions of 25 producers of child pornography and 51 hands-on abusers, while 55 children were “identified or rescued” in America, and another 296 internationally who were sexually abused.
Though Motherboard describes it as hacking “over 8,000 computers in 120 countries based on one warrant,” the FBI calls it their “most successful effort to date against users of Tor’s hidden service sites,” adding that the agency “has numerous investigations involving the dark web.” Though they’d soon became aware of the site’s existence, “given the nature of how Tor hidden services work, there was not much we could do about it” — until a foreign law enforcement agency discovered the site had “slipped up” by revealing its actual IP address, and notified the U.S. investigators. The FBI also says the investigation “has opened new avenues for international cooperation in efforts to prosecute child abusers around the world.”
The site’s two other administrators — both men in their 40s — were also given 20-year prison sentences earlier this year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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