Child PornographyIn The News

An Update On the “Operation Pacifier” Bungle

On Sept. 6th I wrote “Should The FBI Be Paying Restitution” about the agency’s part in a child pornography sting known as “Operation Pacifier” in which the FBI kept a known “dark website” up and running while they attempted to snare child pornography suspects with a hacking tool called NIT/network investigative technique.

A problem occurred when the courts realized that the judge who issued the search warrant for the approximately 180 child pornography suspects caught in the snare only had authority for a search warrant within her own jurisdiction, in this case Virginia.

A Knoxville,TN federal judge, Senior U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan has now joined a growing number of other federal judges in ruling that the FBI’s tactics in the sting violated the rights of the suspects, including one man from Rockwood, TN.  The FBI used the information from the initial warrant to obtain evidence from computers nationwide, not just within the judge’s jurisdiction.

What I find amusing is the FBI’s defense “we had no other way to infiltrate the site (NIT infects the users computer with a tracking malware) and that the malware tactic is so new, the law simply hasn’t caught up to it.”

It seems to me that when so many young men accused of child pornography have pleaded in court that they ” they didn’t understand all the technology involved with sharefiles” or “they didn’t know CP could be mixed in with downloaded adult porn” the FBI couldn’t have cared less.

New technology, not computer savy, an accidental download, the FBI wouldn’t accept any of those as “real possibilities.”

The fact that child pornography laws had not kept up with the fast paced computer age we live in, did not compute when it came to the FBI and the courts in doling out sentences for sex offenders.

But now, when the shoe is on the other foot, they are crying foul because their tactics are new, the technology is new and laws haven’t caught up yet.

And, least we get too overjoyed by the fact that Judge Jordan has aligned with the other judges in ruling that the FBI violated the suspects rights, the Judge is in fact going to allow the evidence obtained by the “illegal” search in the case of the Rockwood,TN suspect. There is apparently something known as a “good faith exception” somewhere in the depths of the law that rescues the evidence if the federal agents obtained it in “good faith” believing their warrants were legal.

Too bad there’s no “good faith exception” for our loved ones who made honest mistakes on computers or with teenage sexting or romeo & juliette romances, skinny dipping, public urinating…the list goes on.




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