Bankman-Fried Prosecutors Seek Tougher Device Restrictions

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  • Federal prosecutors have filed for a tightening of restrictions on Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions
  • U.S. Attorney for New York Damian Williams has asked that the former FTX CEO only be allowed to use a device not connected to the internet
  • Bankman-Fried is already banned from using a VPN and encrypted messaging services

Federal prosecutors want to further restrict Sam Bankman-Fried’s use of electronic devices following a request for partial restrictions in January. Bankman-Fried is already temporarily banned from using encrypted messaging apps like Signal, which he was using to try and contact potential witnesses, but prosecutors want to take things one step further and swap his existing device for a government-issued one that has no internet access, as well as making his temporary conditions permanent.

Williams Asks for Tougher Measures

Bankman-Fried was caught messaging potential witnesses in January through Signal, which resulted in an application by U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, to temporarily amend the former FTX CEO’s bail conditions so that he couldn’t contact certain people and that he couldn’t use encrypted messaging services like Signal. This was granted, as was a VPN ban, but it seems that Williams feels it didn’t go far enough.

In a new filing on Friday Williams asked for a plethora of new conditions, including limiting Bankman-Fried’s access to the internet by banning use of smartphones, tablets, computers, and video game devices that allow chat and voice communication. Williams also wants to make some of temporary restrictions permanent, including a ban on Bankman-Fried using a VPN and encrypted messaging apps as well ensuring he cannot communicate with any FTX or Alameda Research employee without counsel present.

Bankman-Fried to Get Government-issued Flip Phone?

Instead of his own device, Bankman-Fried would instead be provided with a government-issued flip phone that would only allow for SMS text messaging and voice calls, and would be subject to monitoring software on his computer. He would have to surrender his electronic devices for investigation by pretrial services and would be barred from purchasing any new devices capable of connecting to the internet.

No rationale is given for the raft of proposed changes, but clearly prosecutors are worried about what Bankman-Fried can still get up to with unfettered internet access, which is perhaps understandable given his attempts to contact those central to the case while being out on bail.