Image: Getty Images

Way back in February 2015, the FBI infiltrated Playpen, a child pornography ring on the dark web. After taking control of the site, the FBI could have shut it down. But it didn’t.

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Instead, the FBI kept it running for two weeks so that it could deliver malware to visitors. That malware was then used to identify more than 100 individuals who were eventually indicted on charges of child pornography. While taking down pedophiles is a good thing, the legality of the operation and the implications of what it means for the FBI to be able to hack innocent people, are more complicated issues.

As you might imagine, the people arrested as part of Operation Playpen are pretty pissed about the whole thing and are petitioning the court to throw out the indictments. One of the lawyers for an original administrator of Playpen is now claiming not only that the FBI made the website run faster and more efficiently but the agency also increased traffic. The motion, as noted by Motherboard, argues that the government really just drove a lot more users to a lot of really terrible stuff.

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The motion reads:

As a result, the number of visitors to Playpen while it was under Government control [increased] from an average of 11,000 weekly visitors to approximately 50,000 per week. During those two weeks, the website’s membership grew by over 30%, the number of unique weekly visitors to the site more than quadrupled, and approximately 200 videos, 9,000 images, and 13,000 links to child pornography were posted on the site

That’s basically a five-fold increase in traffic. And again, the FBI made the site faster, something users of the site really appreciated.

So good job, FBI. You helped a lot more people access child porn. Oh, and because of how you did it, the indictments might not even hold up in court.

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[Motherboard via Christopher Soghoian]