Bankman-Fried used VPN to watch Super Bowl, will stop using private network until bail is settled

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried used a VPN to watch the Super Bowl, but he has agreed to stay away from the tech until his bail terms are settled, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer wrote in a court filing on Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams raised concerns on Monday that Bankman-Fried had used a VPN several times over the last two months. The government is concerned about the use of the technology because it shields the government and other third parties from seeing “which websites a user is visiting or what data is being sent and received online,” Williams wrote.

Bankman-Fried used a VPN to watch the AFC and NFC championship games on Jan. 29, along with the Super Bowl, via an NFL Game Pass international subscription he bought when he lived in the Bahamas, according to his lawyers. 

Bankman-Fried and the Justice Department each requested more time to negotiate his bail terms, and discuss the VPN issue, according to court documents. Both parties have asked a judge to extend the deadline to come to an agreement until Friday. 

“Our client will not use a VPN in the interim,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, said in a letter to the judge. 

Encrypted messaging

Bankman-Fried’s bail terms have been in contention since January, after prosecutors claimed he used the encrypted messaging app Signal to contact a potential witness in his criminal case. Bankman-Fried is under house arrest on a $250 million bond and could spend decades in jail if he is convicted. 

“The defense maintains that the defendant was not using a VPN for any improper purpose and has indicated that it would like the opportunity to engage in discussions with the government about the issue,” Williams said in a court filing. “The parties therefore respectfully request additional time, until Feb. 17, 2023, to discuss the implications of the defendant’s use of a VPN, to formulate their respective positions on how, if at all, this affects the proposed bail conditions, and to make additional submissions to the court.” 

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan extended temporary restrictions to Bankman-Fried’s bail last week and rejected a set of bail terms Bankman-Fried’s lawyers offered to the court.

The former exchange boss is barred from using encrypted or ephemeral apps like Signal or contacting current or former employees of FTX. 

Disclaimer: Beginning in 2021, Michael McCaffrey, the former CEO and majority owner of The Block, took a series of loans from founder and former FTX and Alameda CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. McCaffrey resigned from the company in December 2022 after failing to disclose those transactions.

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