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PlayPen Case: DOJ Says FBI Played No Role In Improving Child Porn Website

Last week, Peter Adolf, a lawyer defending PlayPen’s former administrator, Steven Chase, argued that the FBI had improved the functionality of the infamous PlayPen dark web child porn site when they took control of it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) made a statement denying the claims:

“The government played no role in enhancing or improving the functionality of the website,” a court filing from the DOJ reads.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation briefly took over the PlayPen website in February 2015 as part of Operation Pacifier. Instead of shutting down the site, the federal agency kept it up to function as a honeypot. By controlling the site, they delivered malware to the website’s visitors in order to identify them.

The child porn website’s alleged administrator, Steven Chase was also arrested when the Bureau took over the website. Adolf claims the FBI has enhanced the performance of the illicit dark net site when they were operating it. He believes this argument will get the charges against his client dropped.

“The FBI distributed child pornography to viewers and downloaders worldwide for nearly two weeks, until at least March 4, 2015, even working to improve the performance of the website beyond its original capability,” Adolf wrote. The defense lawyer also believes, since of the Bureau’s improvements, Playpen’s membership number grew by over 30 percent.

Adolf based his argument on messages posted on the child porn website while the federal agency was operating it. The DOJ denies both accusations, they said the FBI did not improve the performance of PlayPen and the agency did not increase the website’s popularity. They say the dark net site was facing common Tor network-related issues, and that the connectivity improved by itself.

“Chase claims absent actual factual support that the government enhanced or improved the website’s functionality. He is incorrect. His argument appears to be related to a misunderstanding, or misinterpretation, regarding certain postings to the website. When the FBI first assumed administrative control of the Playpen website, it experienced connectivity issues for a few days. Such connectivity issues are typical of all Tor hidden services and eventually resolved themselves. One posting attached to Chase’s motion was made after the connectivity issues were resolved to reference the fact that the connectivity issues had resolved themselves,” the Department of Justice explains in its statement.

Adolf tries to get his defendant’s indictment dismissed by claiming the Bureau engaged in an “outrageous conduct” by operating PlayPen. However, the DOJ says Chase was arrested before the federal agency took control of the child pornography website. The Department of Justice also points out that other defendants, who were arrested as part of Operation Pacifier, have failed to convince judges with the same argument.

“To be sure, agents considered seizing Playpen and removing it from existence immediately,” the DOJ writes. “Doing so might have ended child pornography trafficking on Playpen, but it would have come at a great cost: squandering any hope of identifying and apprehending the offenders responsible for engaging in hands-on exploitation as well as identifying and prosecuting those users.”

4 comments

  1. What a bunch of bullshit!!! The DOJ are a bunch of fucking liars!! Someone needs to blow-up their headquarters. They are NO different than the perverts whom they are trying to arrest. The US government are a bunch of hypocrites, no different than ISIS or the other Muslim freaks.

    Connectivity issues that “resolved” themselves?? What a bunch of shit!!! Anyone who knows how Tor works knows that hidden services only take an hour or two to reestablish themselves!!

    Look, dumb-fucks, the FBI was running Playpen on FAST servers with FAST connections, likely, fiber, with LOTS of memory and horse-power to boot. And, yes, they attracted customers!! And, I admit, I was one of them!!! Thanks FBI for all of the great CP!!!

  2. Bj…you sick fuck…go and hang yourself as soon as possible…

  3. To both of you.

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