Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more.
Hosted by Larry Mantle
Airs Weekdays 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

FBI child porn sting operation comes under fire over privacy concerns




Computer cables are plugged in a server room on November 10, 2014 in New York City.The FBI has faced criticism from privacy experts over hacking of child pornography website.
Computer cables are plugged in a server room on November 10, 2014 in New York City.The FBI has faced criticism from privacy experts over hacking of child pornography website.
Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

Listen to story

17:04
Download this story 8.0MB

In 2014, a child porn site called The Playpen started in what is known as the dark web on the internet, a space where users can operate anonymously using special software.

The FBI got word of Playpen soon after its launch. Instead of shutting it down, the agency continued running it for two weeks to catch suspected child pornographers. Investigators first planted a hacking tool on the site to allow them to obtain information like IP addresses from the users’ computers. Then it went to Internet providers to get the names and physical addresses of those same people. The FBI did obtain search warrants for both steps. Over 180 people have been arrested from the sting operation.

But the FBI’s tactics have come under criticism from privacy experts. The issue is this: the FBI had sought legal permission from a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Virginia to install the Playpen hacking tool, and under current laws, federal magistrate judges can only grant a search warrant in their jurisdictions. Because Playpen users are located in different places across the country, critics argue that the warrant obtained by the FBI wasn’t valid.

Guests: 

Jamie Satterfield, journalist specializing in the law and crime for the Knoxville News Sentinel, which is part of Gannett that owns USA Today. She’s been following this story since October 2015. She tweets from @JamieScoop

Mark Rumold, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has filed amicus briefs on behalf on some of the defendants in the case