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Home Computers Connected to the Internet Aren’t Private, Court Rules

 

A judge in Virginia rules that people should have no expectation of privacy on their home PCs because no connected computer “is immune from invasion.”

A federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that the user of any computer that connects to the Internet should not have an expectation of privacy because computer security is ineffectual at stopping hackers.The June 23 ruling came in one of the many cases resulting from the FBI’s infiltration of PlayPen, a hidden service on the Tor network that acted as a hub for child exploitation, and the subsequent prosecution of hundreds of individuals. To identify suspects, the FBI took control of PlayPen for two weeks and used, what it calls, a “network investigative technique,” or NIT—a program that runs on a visitor’s computer and identifies their Internet address.Such mass hacking using a single warrant has riled privacy and digital-rights advocates, but Senior U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. upheld the use of the warrant and even stated that the warrant is unnecessary because of the type of crime being investigated and because users should have no “objectively reasonable expectation of privacy.”Even using countermeasures, such as the Tor network, does not mean that the user should expect their location or their activities to remain private, according to the judge.

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