FBI ran website sharing thousands of child porn images


#1

13 WMAZ:

FBI ran website sharing thousands of child porn images

WASHINGTON — For nearly two weeks last year, the FBI operated what it described as one of the Internet’s largest child pornography websites, allowing users to download thousands of illicit images and videos from a government site in the Washington suburbs.The operation — whose details remain largely secret — was at least the third time in recent years that FBI agents took control of a child pornography site but left it online in an attempt to catch users who officials said would otherwise remain hidden behind an encrypted and anonymous computer network. In each case, the FBI infected the sites with software that punctured that security, allowing agents to identify hundreds of users.

The Justice Department acknowledged in court filings that the FBI operated the site, known as Playpen, from Feb. 20 to March 4, 2015. At the time, the site had more than 215,000 registered users and included links to more than 23,000 sexually explicit images and videos of children, including more than 9,000 files that users could download directly from the FBI. Some of the images described in court filings involved children barely old enough for kindergarten.

That approach is a significant departure from the government’s past tactics for battling online child porn, in which agents were instructed that they should not allow images of children being sexually assaulted to become public. The Justice Department has said that children depicted in such images are harmed each time they are viewed, and once those images leave the government’s control, agents have no way to prevent them from being copied and re-copied to other parts of the internet.
Officials acknowledged those risks, but said they had no other way to identify the people accessing the sites.

“We had a window of opportunity to get into one of the darkest places on Earth, and not a lot of other options except to not do it,” said Ron Hosko, a former senior FBI official who was involved in planning one of the agency’s first efforts to take over a child porn site. “There was no other way we could identify as many players.”

I’m rather disturbed by this. The government was distributing child porn thru this site in the name of the law?
I suppose one could argue the images on this site already existed, the abuse already occurred and leaving the site up was the only way to catch the bad guys.


#2

I am also rather disturbed by this. It is gravely immoral when a person does something evil to bring about good. In this case, the government took over a child porn site, an evil action, in order to bring about good, catching users of child pornography. What the government did was gravely immoral. They need to come up with better ways to catch pedophiles.


#3

It would seem to me they should be able to hack into the site and collect the IP addresses of the users without “running the site”. Surely we have better technology than this?


#4

Its ridiculous they claim they have no other way to catch these people.

While this is disgusting to me, personally, Im not surprised by it, we all know Satan has a firm grip on this world right now, so it really should not be a surprise when our Government is found to be involved in such things.

Not sure about anyone else, but Ive read more than a few things in the past that suggest high level govt officials, CEOs of large companies, and other powerful people being in control of child sex trafficking rings in this country, I sometimes wonder how deep the rabbit hole really goes and if we would really want to know the truth.


#5

Given the recent uptick in arrests with vague info on how the perps got caught, it probably worked. I am sure cases involving documented downloads will stick in court better than a list of ip addresses. Wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t some type of tracing/spyware attached to downloads as well.

Disturbing, yes. But that’s as far as I’ll go in condemning it…


#6

Maybe you can suggest some.

I am not defending the actions of the FBI but the internet has opened up a Pandora’s Box in terms of hiding behind walls and breaking the law.

We all want criminals to be caught, tried and convicted but nobody likes the way that it is done. What, then, are we to do?


#7

It kinda reminds me of the “trap cars” that police use to catch auto thieves. Yet still, it strikes me as the government participating in these gravely immoral actions.

Surely, the FBI could try hacking these websites and putting them out of commission. But would that create a “low-supply=high demand” problem, like the War on Drugs?

Furthermore, would the government become so dogged over finding child porn that it would intrude into the lives of law-abiding citizens, violating the 4th Amendment?

I’m with Mikele; I would not be surprised if high-ranking movers and shakers are just as guilty/complicit in child porn, human trafficking, etc. When one considers the frequent horror stories we hear of Churchmen being involved, imagine how it is in the secular realm of society! :eek:


#8

Do you think undercover work is immoral?

I find this very similar to a policeperson going undercover to gather intel. The officer will often live the life of a criminal in doing their work.


#9

An undercover officer cannot kill someone just because they were going to be killed anyway. Yes, it is similar, but if it were to be a good comparison, they would have to not download any content, as that is the crime in and of itself. What the FBI did was gravely immoral. Now, thanks to them, thousands of people have more images of themselves being molested as a child floating in cyber space.


#10

I don’t have enough knowledge of technology to make any suggestions. Sorry.


#11

This quote seems appropriate:

“Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

-Representative Barney Frank (D. Mass)


#12

Yes, it is immoral, it falls under the category of lying in order that “good” may come of it. And it is very often corrupting for the officers involved.
They are in a terrible position, they signed up to enforce the law but as undercovers their assignment is to befriend criminals in order to betray them and (within limits) break the law. How do you do that all day then put your regular personality back on?
When you see stories of cops stealing money from raids or dealing drugs from evidence it is almost always undercovers.

There have been many cases of college students who were basically blackmailed, into informants for undercover work who wound up murders. In many cases undercover work is entrapment or close to it.


#13

I wonder if this is how they caught the Ohio seminarian looking to have sex with infants.


#14

I’m all for any method of catching and punishing these terrible people. Why should they be respected and protected when they violate a small child? I don’t sympathize with these people. I’m honestly surprised we still have a thread of decency left and that this isn’t something we all have to embrace and “accept” just like all the other things.:rolleyes:


#15

How is this any different than what the Church did during WW2 by issuing fake baptismal certificates to protect the Jews?


#16

Then perhaps you should withhold judgement.

Like it or not, what the FBI did enabled them to identify and arrest those who traffic in child porn. I see this as a good thing. It hasn’t ended the scourge of child pornography but it took out several hundred willing participant. Perhaps this will have some unforeseen ripple effect.


#17

This is Moral Theology 101. One cannot commit objectively immoral acts so that some good may come of it.


#18

Sounds like another case of the end always justifies the means.


#19

Sounds like another overuse of a trite cliche.


#20

You’ve just described 99% of the actions undertaken by every government at every time in history.

The precepts of moral theology immediately break down when applied to the real world.


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