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Three legal advocacy organizations have published a new guide for criminal defense attorneys who are defending more than 200 people who are accused of accessing Playpen, a now-shuttered notorious child porn site that was only available as a Tor-hidden service.
The Playpen prosecutions, which are unfolding nationwide, have raised significant questions as to what the limits of government surveillance should be—and how much judicial and legislative oversight exists for authorized government hacking.
In order to find the suspects, federal authorities seized and operated the site for 13 days before closing it down in 2015.

During that period, the FBI deployed a Tor exploit that allowed them to find out those users’ real IP addresses.

The use of Tor, which obscures and anonymizes IP addresses and browser user agents, makes it significantly more difficult for individuals to be tracked online. With the exploit, it became extremely easy for suspects to be identified and located. The Department of Justice has called this exploit a “network investigative technique,” (NIT) while many security experts have dubbed it as “malware.”
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