In 2013, the FBI took down Freedom Hosting and with it, brought down a minimum of 23 child pornography sites. The seizure of child pornography (CP) servers was considered a win by law enforcement and many Tor users. However, recently unsealed documents reveal just how far the FBI stepped outside the law.
During the investigation, agents discovered a connection between an email service and many CP websites. The FBI was then given a warrant to hack 300 users of TorMail, the email service in mentioned.
TorMail was an encrypted mail platform that allowed users to send and receive emails over the Tor network. The FBI was allowed to hack TorMail users after discovering that both TorMail and the CP sites were hosted on the same server.
Documents explicitly clarified that only the 300 target accounts listed in the affidavit were to be hacked.
The ACLU fought to have the documents unsealed in September and the Department of Justice ultimately published them in redacted form. The released documents confirmed the suspicions and theories of many cybersecurity researchers and TorMail users alike.