Very interesting article. The article make a big point that this is the first time the FBI has publicly acknowledged targeting all users of a particular website. Typically, I would oppose such a tactic as overly broad, similar to the NSA surveillance of massive numbers of Americans. In this case, however, the the FBI attempted to surveille all users of three child porographic website located on the “dark net”. Viewing child pornography is illegal. There is no legal purpose to visit the sites (though you could have a well meaning researcher or other professional, such as a child welfare worker). Also, it is highly unlikely that you will accidentally access a child pornography site on the dark net. In the unlikely event there was a mistake or there was a legitimate, though legally questionable purpose, there should be plenty of evidence to support such a claim (or a lack of evidence to convict on child pornography charges).
I do agree with the points raised re additional transparency. In a democracy, a government should be relatively transparent. My personal opinion is that many (though not all) the claims re operational security, are overblown. That said, vigorous debate is important and the government interests should not be automatically discounted.
I was not aware of the following:
The Judicial Conference of the United States is currently considering a Justice Department petition to explicitly permit spyware deployments, based in part on the legal framework established by Operation Torpedo. Critics of the petition argue the Justice Department must explain in greater detail how its using spyware, allowing a public debate over the capability.
If the framework is likely to result in innocent members of the public being surveilled, I would not support it. If, however, the framework allows for the surveillance of all visitors of an site that is illegal on its face, then I would support it.
But perhaps most importantly, what I think isn’t going to sway the Conference. 🙂