In 2013, the FBI received permission to hack over 300 specific users of dark web email service TorMail. But now, after the warrants and their applications have finally been unsealed, experts say the agency illegally went further, and hacked perfectly legitimate users of the privacy-focused service.“That is, while the warrant authorized hacking with a scalpel, the FBI delivered their malware to TorMail users with a grenade,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Motherboard in an email.
Word got to my lawyer in the US, who decided to call FBI Special Agent Mark Burnett, on that Friday, saying that he represented me and my family. Burnett said the FBI simply wanted to ask me some questions. My lawyer responded by stating that, as my invoked representation, all questions should be directed to him rather than to me or my family. The agent agreed, paused while some muffled male voices were heard in the background, and asked to call back in five minutes. Five minutes later, Burnett called back and said, “I don’t believe you actually represent her.” Burnett stated additionally that a phone call from me might suffice, but that the FBI preferred to meet with me in person. After a pause he said, “But… if we happen to run into her on the street, we’re gonna be asking her some questions without you present.”
Two federal agents whose work helped to shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace have been accused of stealing from the Darknet market during the investigation. The criminal complaint, unveiled today, reveals a remarkable level of corruption within the investigation into the drug marketplace, which hosted more than $200 million in transactions.
Government prosecutors have charged former DEA agent Carl Force and former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges with wire fraud and money laundering. Force is also charged with stealing government property and “conflict of interest.”
The government had multiple investigations into Silk Road. Force and Bridges both worked on one based out of Baltimore. Force was the lead undercover agent in charge of communicating with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), the operator of the Silk Road site, while Bridges was a computer forensics expert.
Last week there was a story on TorrentFreak about a copyright monopolist who had gone absolutely insane and sent so-called “takedown notices” to everybody and their brother, from EFF to TOR – basically anybody with a download page.
It’s a complete mystery why this isn’t a criminal behavior. The fact that it isn’t is why it continues and harms innovation, creativity, free speech, and the Internet.
The Swedish Pirate Party had a very clear policy on crimes like this: if you lied about holding an exclusive right to something, the same penalty that would have applied to an infringer of that exclusive right would instead apply to you. This is only fair, after all: you are infringing on the distribution of a creative work by dishonest means.
For repeat offenders, or organizations that committed this crime on a commercial basis or commercial gain, like that idiot record label in the TorrentFreak story – they would be declared criminal organizations and have all their assets seized. The individuals doing so for commercial gain would go to jail for a couple of years.
The thing is, this should not even be contentious. This is how we deal with this kind of criminal act in every – every – other aspect of society. If you lie as part of commercial operations and hurt somebody else’s rights or business, you are a criminal. If you do so repeatedly or for commercial gain, direct or indirect, you’re having your ill-gotten gains seized. This isn’t rocket science. This is standard bloody operating procedure.
The copyright industry goes ballistic at this proposal, of course, and try to portray themselves as rightsless victims – when the reality is that they have been victimizing everybody else after making the entire planet rightsless before their intellectual deforestation.
Speaking at Infoforum-2015, Russian MP Leonid Levin, who is deputy head of the Duma Committee on information politics, indicated that access to anonymization and circumvention tools such as TOR, VPNs and even web proxies, needs to be restricted.