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FBI Dark Web hacks were a part of a global child porn bust

Operation Pacifier covered numerous countries and agencies.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
January 23, 2016
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That FBI hacking initiative that caught 1,500 pedophiles on the Dark Web? It was just the tip of the iceberg. Motherboard has discovered that the operation was just one part of Operation Pacifier, a global campaign to fight child porn hidden through anonymity networks like Tor. The effort had the FBI hacking systems as far afield as Chile, Denmark and Greece -- there are also hints of possible operations in Colombia and Turkey. The US agency wasn't working alone, either, as it teamed up with Europol to collect information and pass it along to local law enforcement.

The international scope isn't completely surprising, since the feds briefly took over an existing service (Playpen) to infiltrate the PCs of pedophiles who signed up. There were bound to be people outside of the US who got caught. However, it reveals just how broad the FBI's search warrant really was. Effectively, it had permission to hack an unlimited number of targets worldwide in the name of stamping out sexual exploitation.

[Image credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images]

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