The FBI used a single warrant to hack into more than 8,000 computers in 120 different countries, according to newly released evidentiary hearing transcripts. The warrant was initially issued in February last year which enabled the FBI to set up a sting operation on the child pornography site Playpen, where the Bureau set up malware to get IP addresses from users of the dark web site. 

Motherboard reports that this is the largest ever (known) hack carried out by a law enforcement agency in the United States. Motherboard previously reported that the warrant busted around 1,000 alleged users of Playpen in the U.S., and that the FBI had also hacked computers in Australia, Austria, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, and Greece.

But the new evidentiary hearing transcripts reveal that the hack went much farther and wider than early reports revealed. 

Attorneys representing defendants in the criminal proceedings of the Playpen hack are framing the FBI hacks as an example of the FBI overreaching based on a single warrant. Principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, Christopher Soghoian, told Motherboard: "The fact that a single magistrate judge could authorize the FBI to hack 8,000 people in 120 countries is truly terrifying."

Illegally viewing videos of children being raped and abused on the dark web is also truly terrifying, but let's save that for the courts.

One of the big legal issues the FBI is now confronted with is the fact that the judge who signed the warrant, Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan of the Eastern District of Virginia, did not have the authority to sign a warrant for searches outside of her own district, according to Motherboard. So far, four cases have been thrown out because the information collected with the malware was technically uncovered without the proper warrant.

However, magistrate judges will soon (Motherboard reports as of Dec. 1) be able to give warrants for hacks outside of their districts, which means it will become much easier for the FBI to obtain broad warrants for hacks. So far, these warrants have only been used for child pornography cases, but privacy advocates are concerned that with freer rein, the FBI might start sticking their malware where it doesn't belong.