Incompetant FBI values secrecy over public safety

FBI Chooses Secrecy Over Locking Up Criminals
Jenna McLaughlin May 2 2016, 8:14 a.m.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to discuss even the broad strokes of some of its secret investigative methods, such as implanting malware and tracking cellphones with Stingrays, is backfiring — if the goal is to actually enforce the law. In the most recent example, the FBI may be forced to drop its case against a Washington State school administrator charged with possessing child porn because it doesn’t want to tell the court or the defense how it got its evidence—even in the judge’s chambers. The FBI reportedly used a bug in an older version of the free anonymity software Tor to insert malware on the computers of people who accessed a child-porn website it had seized. The malware gave agents the ability to see visitors’ real Internet addresses and track them down.

— earlier arguments that revealing the full details of the technique would be “harmful to the public interest.” The information might damage future investigations by allowing potential targets to learn about the FBI’s tactics,
 The bureau sometimes pays third parties for exploitable security flaws, which lose their market value when they are made public and get fixed.
 But if this case gets dropped, the “defendant walks because the Government has decided that its secrecy trumps someone else’s becoming a victim of Crime Everyone Hates,” Scott Greenfield, criminal defense lawyer, wrote in his blog Simple Justice. “The FBI would rather let a criminal go free than actually follow a court order designed to ensure a fair defense” even though revealing the bug “would almost certainly not help the defense,” tweeted Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California. And this isn’t the first time FBI has expressed “its preference for secrecy over public safety,” tweeted Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy manager for digital rights group Access Now.
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