FOI Documents Show TOR Undernet Beyond the Reach of the Federal InvestigatorsMichael Morisy
Jun. 13, 2012
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Recently released documents detail the federal government's inability to pursue cybercriminals shrouded by the tricky anonymity tools used by the Silk Road marketplace and other darknet sites - tools which are funded in part by the federal government itself. In this particular case, a citizen reported stumbling upon a cache of child pornography while browsing the anonymous Tor network's hidden sites, which are viewable with specialized, but readily available, tools and the special .onion domain.
Documents, released through a Freedom of Information Act request by Jason Smathers on MuckRock, show that after being given details of the illicit material, investigators were stymied as to the origin of the pornography's host. In the investigators' own words, "there is not currently a way to trace the origin of the website. As such no other investigative leads exist."
Smathers' request was originally for all Justice Department records mentioning the Silk Road marketplace. The Justice Department forwarded the request on to the FBI for processing. In fact, the FBI had received an almost identical request, also filed by Smathers, and rejected it, claiming at the time that responsive records could not be found.