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Judge Concerned Over Unethical Actions in FBI Child Porn Investigation
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dark web child porn

Summary: The federal judge vocalized his uneasiness with the actions of the FBI last year in a child pornography investigation on the dark web.

A federal judge is concerned over the “ethical and legal” issues regarding the FBI hosting a child-porn site on the dark web. The Department of Justice took control of a bulletin board where the distribution of child-pornography was allowed while agents hack the visitors’ computers, letting nearly 1 million illegal images be distributed.

  
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U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan questioned the DOJ prosecutors about their claim that the act of taking over the page on the dark web for two weeks in 2015 was acceptable. Bryan is hearing arguments in Tacoma regarding a motion to suppress evidence gathered during the investigation involving three Washington men – Gerald Lesan, Bruce Lorente, and David Tippens. The men are accused of viewing and receiving child porn.

Read 9 Lawyers Associated with Child Pornography.

Deputy Director of the DOJ’s New York-based Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Keith Becker, claimed during the hearing the keeping the site active was necessary for the investigation. He said, “The government itself did not post or create child pornography.”

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Bryan fired back, “Y’all were doing just exactly what the people who were in charge of that website were doing before you arrested them.”

See Former Cyber Security Head of Health and Human Services Convicted of Child Porn Enterprise.



The case stems from the FBI sting “Operation Pacifier,” which resulted in 214 cases. Many of the cases are undergoing similar scrutiny in courts across the country. The courts have been divided in the rulings against whether the FBI went too far.

The three men accuse the government of “outrageous conduct” by committing the same, if not more serious, crimes of distributing pornography compared to those they were pursuing. They also allege the DOJ of violating the federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the will of Congress where warrants must be issued in the related district of the crime. The DOJ used a Virginia magistrate judge to issue one search warrant that was used for up to 100,000 computers in 120 countries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hampton’s final argument, “These are bad people who hurt children. The government did what was necessary.”

Do you think the government should be allowed to do whatever is necessary to catch those involved in child pornography? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about the dark web, read The Dark Web – Not As Dark As You Probably Thought.

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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