A ruling by a US federal judge William Young today declared that the magistrate judge who issued a warrant authorizing the FBI to infect suspects’ PC’s with tracking malware lacked all of the authority to do so.
In early 2015, the Feds had used the warrant to install a so called NIT, a Network Investigative Technique, on the computers of people who visited a website hidden in the Tor network that hosted a huge archive of photos and videos of child sex abuse.
The agents commandeered the websites server, and before shutting it down, configured it to deliver the NIT to pedophiles PC’s for a couple weeks, allowing the investigators to unmask and identify the websites visitors even though they were connecting via the anonymizing Tor network. Each NIT, once in place on a computer, was able to ping an outside FBI controlled system to reveal a suspects true IP address, which could be traced back to their home with their ISP’s help.
Hundreds of machines visiting the hidden Playpen website were infected with the FBI’s NIT. It turns out that the