Sam Bankman-Fried’s Super Bowl VPN Use Prompts Government Concern

U.S. prosecutors worry he could use the privacy tool to access foreign crypto sites or the dark web while on bail.

AccessTimeIconFeb 14, 2023 at 8:32 a.m. UTC
Updated Feb 14, 2023 at 7:31 p.m. UTC
Drive the Crypto Policy Conversation Forward
October 24, 2023 • Convene • Washington D.C.Where the industry establishes the digital economy’s legal, regulatory and compliance best practices for the future.Register Now

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of collapsed crypto exchange FTX, has been using a virtual private network (VPN) to access the internet, U.S. prosecutors have said, potentially prompting a further clampdown on his bail conditions.

After learning he had used the privacy tool twice over recent weeks, “the Government promptly informed defense counsel and raised concerns about the defendant’s use of a VPN,” said a letter from the U.S. attorney Danielle Sassoon to Judge Lewis Kaplan, dated Feb. 13.

VPNs allow internet users to mask their whereabouts, which means the government can’t see what websites or data they access. Though they can be used benignly, they can also be used to access foreign crypto sites that block U.S. users and covertly access the dark web, Sassoon's letter said.

In a response dated Feb. 14, Bankman-Fried’s attorney Mark Cohen said he had the VPN to watch playoffs in the National Football League (NFL), and the Super Bowl, via an international subscription. Cohen said he's willing to allow a “reasonable” bail condition on VPNs, and that Bankman-Fried won't use one in the interim.

The court has already restricted Bankman-Fried's ability to contact FTX employees using ephemeral messaging services like Signal.

Bankman-Fried was charged in December with multiple counts of fraud following the collapse of his crypto exchange FTX. He has pleaded not guilty and been released on bail.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.