Conviction of UK pedophile raises questions about FBI’s child sex abuse sting operation

Conviction of UK pedophile raises questions about FBI’s child sex abuse sting operation

Data from Operation Pacifier — a law enforcement sting operation that saw the FBI running a child sex abuse site — could have just played a part in convicting a 21-year-old London man, Vithusan Puvaneswaran, for possession of extreme pornographic images of children.

Puvaneswaran was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Friday for possessing over 100GB of data, including 48,000 photographs and videos of child sex abuse. Many of these files were from the site the dark Web site the FBI ran in 2015, Playpen.

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What’s curious is how UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) obtained Puvaneswaran’s IP address at all.

The Onion Router, commonly known as TOR, is notoriously difficult to compromise for law enforcement, who instead rely on attacks that inject malware, or monitor compromised exit nodes on the network. To date, there have been no attacks as large as the one used by the FBI in Operation Playpen.

It’s not much of a leap that the NCA didn’t actually find Puvaneswaran’s IP address, but instead relied on shared intelligence from the FBIs operation.

If this is indeed the case — and we’ll be sure to update this story if we can get confirmation — this sets up a whole host of issues with the already dubious FBI investigation. Notably, does a warrant issued for use in the United States, not internationally, give prosecutors in the United Kingdom the ability to use this hacked information without securing a warrant themselves?

➀ New Case Suggests the FBI Shared Data from Its Mass Hacking Campaign with the UK [Motherboard]

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