The FBI Uses "Abhorrent Crimes" To Extend Its Digital Reach

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For more than three years, Eric Eoin Marques has been sitting in a jail cell in Ireland, fighting the global legal system for the right to plead guilty to truly horrible crimes. Last month he finally lost, and as a result Marques will soon be extradited to America to face a maximum 100-year sentence. In Ireland, he would face a maximum sentence of just *eight* years.

His case poses a far-reaching question about the trajectory of global law enforcement with respect to cyber crime, and the nature of crime and justice in a connected world. The uncertainty of the legal space is allowing law enforcement agencies like the FBI to acquire wide-ranging powers of which they quite recently could not have dreamed.

“The U.S. government is exploiting the fact that a lot of these cases are about the most abhorrent crimes, like child pornography,” UC Hastings law professor Ahmed Ghappour tells Inverse. Indeed, the FBI has accused Marques of running a network of encrypted servers, the content of which made him the “largest facilitator of child porn” on the internet — but it’s unclear just which aspects of his crime entitle the United States to try the case.