With a rather worrying and unexpected move, the FBI stopped prosecution against a man accused of taking pictures of child sexual abuse, not to reveal details of how they were traced.
Jay Michaud, a Washington-based teacher from Vancouver, was arrested in July last year after his visit to Playpen, a dark web web site for tens of thousands of perverts who use it to exchange pictures and porn videos and abuse of minors.
Unknowingly at the time of his visit, the FBI was for about a fortnight, the site administrator, when he managed to access the servers he was using.
In this way, the federations managed to set up a network investigation technique or network investigative technique (NIT) to help them find real IP and MAC addresses. For those who did not know Playpen was hidden in the anonymous Tor network, and spyware was necessary to uncover the suspects (about 1.300 IP addresses were collected during the FBI server runtime).
According to the prosecutor's office, a police raid at the actor's house revealed too many photos and videos of child sexual abuse on his computers. But guilty or not, it does not matter why the FBI filed an application to stop the prosecution [PDF] at the end of the previous month.
Because Michaud's lawyer had been demanding from the FBI a sample of the NIT code he used to check to ensure he did not violate the terms of the FBI warrant used to install the malicious software.
US District Judge Robert Bryan agreed, saying that if the prosecution did not show the code, it would have to reject the charges.
The Playpen case has proven to be a legal minefield in more than one way. For starters, the assumption that the same FBI for 15 days at least shared images and videos of child abuse had troubled many.
Continuing the service requested only one warrant for the distribution of NIT spyware worldwide, which was illegal at the time.
This is no longer the case since the change to Article 41 of the Federal Criminal Procedure Code approving such international warrants entered into force on December 1 of the previous year.
And in the past the FBI has stopped prosecution to uncover their research techniques, particularly with Stingray mobile tracking equipment. However, the cases were minimal and were not as severe as cases of child sexual abuse.