Hacking
FBI took control of the Playpen child pornography site and captured the IP and MAC addresses of 1,300 usersiStock

A judge has thrown out claims that the FBI acted "outrageously" when it took over a child pornography website for 13 days, leading to the discovery of 1,300 IP addresses of visitors to the site. The accusation came from a man charged with child pornography crimes.

The suspect argued the case against him should be thrown out of court because of "outrageous conduct" by the FBI. The agency took control of the Playpen child porn website, believed to be the largest on the dark web, and for 13 days ran the site from its own servers in Virginia, US. From here, the FBI scanned the site and used a tool which attempted to grab the IP and MAC addresses of visitors when they logged in.

Representing Jay Michaud, a Vancouver public schools administration worker, lawyer Colin Fieman said: "We consider [the FBI's running of the child porn site] outrageous, because even if there is a legitimate argument for doing that as an investigatory need, which is not true, judges need to be able to decide if it is appropriate. And, frankly, we believe it is appalling," Motherboard reports.

Fieman added that, during the 13 days of the FBI running the site, the agency was "aiding and abetting the uploading and distribution of massive amounts of child pornography."

'I am not shocked by this'

But judge Robert J. Bryan did not agree. He said: "I am not shocked by this. I did not find it outrageous." Referring to Tor, the anonymising browser used to access the dark web, Keith Becker from the Department of Justice Criminal Division, said Michaud's case was not strong enough.

"We are dealing with actions by law enforcement that were necessitated by the actions of the offenders choosing to use, and in fact misuse, technology in order to hide their identity while they sought to exploit and abuse children online," Becker said.

Tor is a web browser used to visit sites on the dark web, an anonymous area of the internet which cannot be found through search engines like Google. The FBI describes Playpen as "the largest remaining known child pornography hidden service in the world." The discovery and capture of Playpen in February 2015 was part of the larger Operation Pacifier, a broader investigation in partnership with Europol.

Becker added: "The United States, the FBI, didn't create this website. It was created by its users and its administrators, and existed and substantially distributed child pornography long before the government ever took it over in an effort to actually identify its criminal users."