Silk Road 2.0 Case Confirms FBI And CMU Tor Attack Collaboration

Judge Richard A Jones of the Western District of Washington has confirmed the collusion between the FBI and Carnegie Mellon University in carrying out an attack on the Tor network. This disclosure occurred in Jone's denial of a motion to compel discovery put forth by attorneys representing Brian Farrell who is alleged to be DoctorClu of the Silk Road 2.0 according to prosecutors. The revelation settles the mystery surrounding the "lead" on Farrell's IP address received on July 30th of 2014 by the department of Homeland Security. This previously uncertain lead enabled by Carnegie Mellon's collaboration lead to months of surveillance of Farrell's residential address before Farrell was raided and arrested on January 2nd, 2015.

This entry into the public record confirms that the United States government is selectively treating domestic law enforcement cases as a military problem while precious few citizens of the United States are treating the defense of their liberty with comparable severity. This entry into the record would make Farrell's case promising in appellate courts maintained by righteous judges, but there is a poverty of actual justice in the United States court system. The full text of the order is presented below:

Case 2:15-cr-00029-RAJ Document 58 Filed 02/23/16 Page 1 of 4

Judge Richard A. Jones


NO. CR15-029RAJ



This matter comes before the Court on defendant’s Motion to Compel Discovery.

(Dkt. #48). For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the defendant’s Motion
to Compel Discovery.

The defendant is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin, and
methamphetamine by virtue of his alleged operation as an administrator with the online
“Silk Road 2.0” website. According to the government, the site operated on the Tor
network with the ostensible purpose of its operation being to mask Internet Protocol
(“IP”) addresses of users of the network.

The record demonstrates that the defendant’s IP address was identified by the
Software Engineering Institute (“SEI”) of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU”) when SEI
was conducting research on the Tor network which was funded by the Department of

Case 2:15-cr-00029-RAJ Document 58 Filed 02/23/16 Page 2 of 4

Defense (“DOD”). The government previously produced information to the defense that
Farrell’s IP address was observed when SEI was operating its computers on the Tor
network. This information was obtained by law enforcement pursuant to a subpoena
served on SEI-CMU.

Based upon the submissions of the parties, it is clear to the court the government
has provided to the defendant basic information about the technique used by SEI to
obtain IP addresses of Tor users, including the defendant. Among other items, the
government’s disclosures included information regarding the funding and structure
relationship between SEI and DOD, as well as directing the defendant to publicly
available materials regarding the Tor network.

The defendant seeks to compel disclosure of additional material pertaining to the
relationship between SEI and federal law enforcement and the methods used by SEI to
identify the defendant’s IP address. The detailed specifics of the request are reflected in
Exhibit A to the defendant’s motion.

The record before the Court suggests that the only information associated with the
defendant and collected by SEI subject to a suppression motion is his IP address. Yet, the
defendant seeks additional technical details as to how SEI operated and captured the
information. From the record, it appears the only information passed on to law
enforcement about the defendant was his IP address. There is nothing presented by the
defense, other than rank speculation, that anything more was obtained by SEI and
provided to law enforcement to identify the defendant.

The Court agrees with the government that applicable Ninth Circuit authority
precludes the defendant’s success on his motion. SEI’s identification of the defendant’s
IP address because of his use of the Tor network did not constitute a search subject to
Fourth Amendment scrutiny. The Court reaches this conclusion primarily upon reliance
on United States v. Forrester, 512 F.2d 500 (9th Cir. 2007). In Forrester, the court
clearly enunciated that: “Internet users have no expectation of privacy in …the IP address

Case 2:15-cr-00029-RAJ Document 58 Filed 02/23/16 Page 3 of 4

of the websites they visit because they should know that this information is provided to
and used by Internet service providers for the specific purpose of directing the routing of
information.” Id. at 510.

In the instant case, it is the Court’s understanding that in order for a prospective

user to use the Tor network they must disclose information, including their IP addresses,
to unknown individuals running Tor nodes, so that their communications can be directed
toward their destinations. Under such a system, an individual would necessarily be
disclosing his identifying information to complete strangers. Again, according to the
parties’ submissions, such a submission is made despite the understanding communicated
by the Tor Project that the Tor network has vulnerabilities and that users might not
remain anonymous. Under these circumstances Tor users clearly lack a reasonable
expectation of privacy in their IP addresses while using the Tor network. In other words,
they are taking a significant gamble on any real expectation of privacy under these

Equally supportive of this determination, which this Court agrees with, is Judge
Robert Bryan’s ruling in United States v. Michaud, W.D. Wa. No. 15-cr-05351,
Dkt. #140, p. 14, where the court held that the IP address was public information.

The evidence before this Court indicates that SEI obtained the defendant’s IP
address while he was using the Tor network and SEI was operating nodes on that
network, and not by any access to his computer. For these reasons, any other discovery
about the methodology or technique used to identify the defendant’s IP address is not
material to his defense.

In addition, the defendant seeks disclosures regarding contacts between SEI, the
Department of Justice, and federal law enforcement. This request includes the period
before and after SEI performed the subject research, with the thrust of the request
premised upon the substance of meetings between DOJ and SEI. The Court is satisfied
that the government has met its discovery obligations on this request. The government
provided the extent of the relationship between DOJ and SEI, and the substance of

Case 2:15-cr-00029-RAJ Document 58 Filed 02/23/16 Page 4 of 4

meetings in which representatives from DOJ and SEI were present. Nothing further is

As to the remaining discovery requests, they are denied. Request No. 1 is moot in
light of the government’s observation that it is irrelevant to the defendant’s case. Request
No. 2 is overbroad and certainly not narrowly tailored, as it calls for documents related to
the entire federal government and SEI during a two-year period. Moreover, the
government (according to the attachments to the government’s response) has provided
the relevant contracts at issue between SEI, DOJ, and DOD. As to Request Nos. 3 and 4,
nothing further is required to be produced. Request Nos. 5 through 9 are the subject of
this Order and require no further explanation.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES the defendant’s Motion to Compel

Discovery. (Dkt. #48).

DATED this 23rd day of February, 2016.

The Honorable Richard A. Jones
United States District Judge


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