Judge orders SBF back to court over VPN use
Prosecutors allege the use of a VPN is no different than use of encrypted messaging apps like Signal, which SBF is forbidden to use while on bail
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been ordered to reappear in court for the second time in a week after prosecutors revealed he has attempted to use a VPN despite being warned by Judge Kaplan against it.
Judge Kaplan set the hearing — scheduled for Feb. 16 — after prosecutors submitted a letter noting that the former FTX CEO had twice used a VPN to access the internet, most recently on Super Bowl Sunday, discovered through SBF’s pen register on his personal Gmail account connected to the VPN.
Prosecutors allege that the infraction occurred less than a week after Judge Kaplan forbade SBF from using Signal’s encrypted messaging app. “The defendant’s use of a VPN presents many of the same risks associated with his use of an encrypted messaging or call application,” Kaplan cautioned SBF during the Feb. 7 hearing.
Despite Judge Kaplan’s concerns, the judge only asked SBF to refrain from using VPNs until after it had been debated in court.
Prosecutors are now alleging that “the use of a VPN raises several potential concerns. First, a VPN is a mechanism of encryption, hiding online activities from third parties, including the Government. Second, it is a means to disguise a user’s whereabouts because a VPN server essentially acts as a proxy on the internet.”
In a letter prosecutors sent to Judge Kaplan, they said, “It is well known that some individuals use VPNs to disguise the fact that they are accessing international cryptocurrency exchanges that use IPs to block U.S. users.”
In response, Bankman-Fried’s legal team requested additional time to negotiate new bail conditions, a move that Judge Kaplan declined, requesting that all parties — including SBF – return to court on Feb. 16.