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Govt Dismissing Darknet Cases due to State Secrets, Illegal Actions, Etc


Rather than disclose the source code that the FBI used to target a
child porn suspect, federal prosecutors in Tacoma, Washington recently
dropped their appeal in United States v. Michaud.
The case is just one of 135 federal prosecutions nationwide involving
the Tor-hidden child porn website Playpen. The vast effort to bust
Playpen has raised significant questions about the ethics, oversight,
capabilities, and limitations of the government’s ability to hack
criminal suspects.
Last year, a federal judge in a related case prosecuted out of
Oklahoma, United States v. Arterbury, also ruled against the
prosecution. The government eventually dropped the appeal and then
dismissed the indictment at the district court in October 2016. Yet
another Playpen case, United States v. Levin, where the defense
prevailed initially, is currently on appeal at the 1st US Circuit
Court of Appeals. Beau Croghan, a man in Iowa, was another alleged
user hit by this NIT—his case was just one of three in which a judge
ruled to suppress the evidence due to a defective warrant. Croghan's
case is now pending before the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Beyond Michaud, Fieman is representing another Playpen defendant in
the same judicial district (the Western District of Washington) before
the very same judge. In the second case, the evidence and legal
questions are nearly identical. That case, United States v. Tippens,
is set to go to trial on February 27, 2017 in Tacoma.