United States: The Federal District Court in Virginia has ruled that FBI (Federal Investigation Bureau) can hack into any individual’s computer without a warrant. The case involved a Tor hidden child pornographic site “Playpen”. The FBI initially hacked servers which were hosting “Playpen” in 2014 and continued to operate the site only to collect information of thousands of visitors.
The malware was used to gather information, containing MAC address, operating system and the “Hostname” of visitor’s computer. The information was then used to track down and arrest offenders across the United States. However, one of the arrested suspects argued that the FBI unlawfully seized the evidence.
In response, judge Henry Morgan ruled for the FBI and stated that even though the law enforcement agency acquired a warrant before conducting hack but it was not needed. The suspect had used Tor to keep his browsing activities anonymous, but a user IP address isn’t a personal information, and it is handed over to third parties for accessing internet.
The case has concerned several privacy advocacy groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Morgan claims that the rise in hacking has changed our expectations regarding privacy. Tor users should not expect to be safe from hackers. Also, the FBI did not violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution by hacking into suspect’s computer. The law enforcement agencies should impose top-notch technologies to counter the crimes done in secrecy.