The FBI are not police, are not detectives, and are not competent in these matters. I'm sorry but covert monitoring of a server is going to be vastly more beneficial for an operation than taking the server and is going to net more targets and more evidence.
I remember stories of the FBI sitting on a known front for organized crime and waiting until they got someone worth catching before making a move.
It's a universal truth that any action has a reaction. If the FBI shut down a money laundering front, then the Mob would get wise and get more sophisticated and you won't hurt their operation. If you wait until you can link someone important to the Mob infrastructure and then make a move, then you've seriously effected crime in a city.
The FBI does shit like this and Megaupload before they appear to have their ducks in a row. They don't know what they're doing, and don't know what they're looking for so they consistently appear to jump the gun.
My only thoughts with this are that someone with a lot of power and influence is making this happen. What I wonder is what politician or presidential candidate/whatever has a lot vested and a lot to lose from someone finding out they/their kids/their family is pirating, or running anonymous operations, etc. Seriously, it's the only reason I can think of other than incompetency as to why the FBI is consistently jumping the gun.
I wonder if they'll auction off the server?
Fun fact. The federal government makes ~$3 billion a year off asset seizures. They don't have to charge people with a crime to seize property - the trial is actually conducted against the property itself.) The law enforcement agencies responsible get to keep 50-80% of the proceeds.
http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/26/the-forfeiture-racket/... (disclaimer - source does not pretend to be unbiased ;)
1. Police are taking at least 20% hit right off the top. so, sure $1000 turns into $750 at 5%, the police are going to be looking at $600 profit, at the very best. a $1000 computer would be more like $100 dollars after five years, in which the police keep $80 bucks.
2. You can pirate all the copyrighted material you want in Argentina and Zimbabwe. Furthermore, neither of those countries really care about property rights. if the government wants your stuff, they just take it anyway.
Actually the FBI is a law-enforcement agency with the statutory power to investigate and arrest people for the violation of certain federal laws. I'd consider that police.
They do this sometimes. You don't hear a lot about it, because it is covert, and nobody makes a stink about it in the headlines. But it is time-intensive and expensive, so you can't do it all the time to every target of interest. If you believe the servers already have all the evidence you need, and you can get the servers, it makes sense.
It's like the difference between hiring a private eye to shadow someone for a month, and simply requesting a subpoena. Both have their place.
It would be interesting to correlation frequency of these stories with FBI budget cycles.
The purpose was to disrupt and stop the service with minimal effort and without having to wait for a trial. They were able to judge and punish a business without trial.
Why would they do that? In this case it might be the very common law enforcement motivation of doing something, anything.
They probably just seized it for evidence collection. May First/People Link said they don't keep any logs. Maybe the FBI didn't believe them or think they can do some 'advanced forensics' on the HDD.
It's like keeping your kids school books and a kilo of cocaine both in your cars trunk, then complaining when the FBI takes the whole car into evidence.
I run a number of Tor nodes. I follow the Tor mailing list. I understand that what I am doing is not illegal, but is still very risky. What have I done in response to that risk? All my important shit is hosted elsewhere.