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The Courts

FBI Posts Fake Hyperlinks To Trap Downloaders of Illegal Porn 767

mytrip brings us a story from news.com about an FBI operation in which agents posted hyperlinks which advertised child pornography, recorded the IP addresses of people who clicked the links, and then tracked them down and raided their homes. The article contains a fairly detailed description of how the operation progressed, and it raises questions about the legality and reliability of getting people to click "unlawful" hyperlinks. Quoting: "With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids. The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements. While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant."

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