How the feds busted the Silk Road. Sometimes, oldskool is best skool.
Incidentally, whenever there’s a narrative around a big crime bust that focuses on the technology used rather than the actual detective work, you can almost always bet it’s a PR move to push for more backdoors in consumer tech products (“See! See, look how it helped us put away this guy!”). It’s the equivalent of putting those body scanners in airports: does nothing to stop terrorism, but man it made some guy hella rich.
The other thing is that it’s often a dick measuring contest between national law enforcement and the intelligence services. I’m not necessarily saying in so many words that your average state intelligence service already has access to a lot of the capabilities that law enforcement wants, but they certainly could, in theory, do similar things by other methods. If you get my meaning. They also don’t like to share,1 which pisses off law enforcement. Hence the dick measuring contest, in which end user privacy is always the loser. Joy.
- Tl;dr: the more they share data out of one channel, the less useful that channel becomes, and intel agencies aren’t usually looking for the same thing law enforcement is. ^