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FBI Hunt For Child Porn Thwarted By Tor 714

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cost-of-anonymous-communication dept.
v3rgEz writes "Documents released by the FBI provide an unusual inside look at how the agency is struggling to penetrate 'darknet' Onion sites routed through Tor, the online privacy tool funded in part by government grants to help global activists. In this case, agents were unable to pursue specific leads about an easily available child pornography site, while files withheld indicate that the FBI has ongoing investigations tied to the Silk Road marketplace, a popular, anonymous Tor site for buying and selling drugs and other illegal materials." Sounds similar to the problems that plagued freenet.
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FBI Hunt For Child Porn Thwarted By Tor

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  • innocence kids were raped to make it

    Not under some countries' definitions of child pornography, which include drawings produced entirely without the involvement of children.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:56PM (#40291641)

    It's just bit. There is no difference to the network between an image of child porn and a manifesto to free Tibet.

    If you can find the source of one you can find the source of the other.

    So the "problem" is actually a case of "working as designed".

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:58PM (#40291649)
    You could run a bridge node -- these are very helpful to people who live in countries with national firewalls that block official Tor relays. Bridge nodes are unlisted relays, which are included in short lists (three nodes if I remember correctly) of randomly selected that are sent upon request via email. Some countries (I am looking at you, China) have ongoing campaigns to compile lists of all bridges, which is why we need people to run as many bridge nodes as possible. A bridge node is not an exit, so you will not face the wrath of the FBI or other police agencies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:58PM (#40291651)

    This shit has been around since TOR's inception. Gawker is a sensationalist pseudo news site that loves to report on old shit to a non nerd audience.

    Let these fools keep posting pictures, every picture is a clue...

  • Re:It doesn't matter (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:59PM (#40291661)

    Yeah, same. I'd like to run a node to help people in less free countries, but knowing that some scumbag will inevitably route CP traffic through it is a deal breaker. Unfortunately, technologies which are meant to make people more free can be abused in this way.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:14PM (#40291773)

    And calling "manga" illegal is about as misleadingly stupid as calling "books" or "movies" illegal just because it's possible to create child pornography in the medium. These aren't subtle distinctions, if you can't tell the difference between a comic book and child porn you are a pretty twisted person.

    Cartoon depictions of child sexual activity (commonly found in manga) is against the child porn statutes in many countries. So, yes, I can tell the difference, but the law can not.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:31PM (#40291891)

    "they should be focusing 100% of their efforts on trying to identify A. the kids and/or B. the locations where the videos were shot."

    Wow! I'm going to call the FBI right away and suggest they try and find out who and where those kids are so they can be rescued! I'm sure they haven't already thought of that one!

    Yeah, I'm sure it's a piece of cake tracking down the precise identity of some random abused youth locked in a completely generic concrete basement. There are only millions upon millions of generic concrete basements out there in the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:36PM (#40291919)

    They ship through USPS because it requires a warrant, and USPS does not require senders to give their actual personal information if they pay in cash. So senders can use a fake name and ship by rotating through delivery hubs. It would still be somewhat traceable, but would require significant resources and time.

  • Re:It doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phydeaux314 (866996) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:48PM (#40291985) Homepage

    Er. I happily pay taxes, because I enjoy the services they purchase. Roads, regulation of industries, national defense, etc. Sometimes I don't agree with the purpose to which my money is put - but as long as my perspective is properly represented and considered, I don't feel that my taxes are 'theft at gunpoint.' The representatives as a group may opt to take a path different from the one I would personally choose, but that doesn't mean what I've given is wasted.

  • by Z34107 (925136) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:55PM (#40292037)

    Cartoon depictions of child sexual activity (commonly found in manga)

    Bullshit. Your local Barnes & Noble is filled with manga volumes completely bereft of child porn.

    It'd be just as (in)accurate to say, "Graphic depictions of sexual abuse (commonly found in Spanish literature)" or "Vivid roleplaying of homosexual violence (commonly found in sports)."

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:02AM (#40292087)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:44AM (#40292709)

    A good friend of mine is serving 180 months for child pornography. Did he produce it? Sell it? Rape children? No. He ran an IRC fileserver and it was uploaded by a user. His upload directory was accessible, which is admittedly an idiotic thing to do. Some FBI agent across the country found it on his server and started the ball rolling. Eventually his house was stormed by agents and all computer equipment seized. He had deleted the files long before this point, but of course they were easily recovered.

    He was charged with four (or five? Been a few years) offenses, all of which carried a sentencing recommendation of five years. All but one that is -- advertising. This charge was included as the behavior of an IRC file server (i.e. "Type !hotxxxpics to access my server") is considered by the law as advertising. The majority of the charges violate 18 USC 2252A which deals with possession. The advertisement charge violates 18 USC 2251 which deals mostly with creating and selling. Everything would've been covered with a five year sentence, but the advertisement pushed it to fifteen. The feds have been tossing this advertisement charge in wherever they can get away with it to raise the mandatory sentence. Google it. Or don't, as you'll likely be red flagged by some FBI drone.

    All court proceedings occurred in the state where the FBI office is located despite the fact that there is a federal courthouse in a town less than an hour from here. A request for change of venue was denied. Your tax dollars paid to buy him bus tickets across the country, food and lodging while he was there, and bus tickets back. Upon the urging of his federal public defender, he eventually plead guilty. As noted by his PD, the 180 month sentence is higher than the sentence recommendation for voluntary manslaughter or conspiracy to commit murder.

    This friend is a decent person, father of three, whose life has been functionally ruined. He left his children in elementary school, and will be released as they finish college. He did something ridiculously stupid and will pay for it for the rest of his life as he is subject to "lifetime supervised release." He's met murderers and rapists who are serving shorter sentences. My suggestion was to plead to possession, as, well, he was possessing it, but to fight this advertisement shit tooth and nail. His PD made it clear that he was absolutely not interested in doing so as it was not likely to work and he'd end up with a longer sentence than he would by pleading guilty to all of it. Your tax dollars will be paying for his incarceration for fifteen years because some jackass uploaded CP to his file server and some FBI agent noticed it. Apparently others have already tried (and failed) claiming an eighth amendment violation. This is widespread and completely out of control.

    Veered somewhat off topic ... sorry ... someone mentions how CP is prosecuted and I get a little pissed. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @03:56AM (#40293005) Homepage

    Law enforcement, like anything else that involves time and effort, is a zero sum game.

    You have no idea what a zero sum game is, so stop using it. A zero sum game is one where all the gains and losses add up to zero, like for example a poker game with no rake. All the money is simply moving around and one man's gain must be another's loss. If a criminal escaped a life sentence that's a huge gain for him but you can't say there's an equal and opposite loss for the police, it's not like they have to go to prison instead. Law enforcement like most games are not zero sum. Time is zero-sum yes, if you spend more time on one thing you must spend less on another but it'd be 24 hours per day even if all they did was sit around and eat donuts all day. If time is the "game" then that's as good a solution as any other.

  • by pantaril (1624521) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:08AM (#40293645)

    One other point: I have read the thread so far and it seems that a large portion of the people are complaining that Japanese hentai are what people get busted for. While that may be true in rare occurrences like someone sharing gigabytes of CP manga... I've worked with law enforcement on CP cases, and they really don't care that much about comics. Yes it's part of the law, but at least in the US, the FBI normally goes after the people with REAL CP and not cartoons. And even then, they go after the people with true collections and not 1-2 images in their cache that they stumbled into while searching random sites. Please link me to a news article that proves me wrong if people are getting busted for single images, since I am only an individual person and could have missed something. And before someone says "they don't report on small time CP busts," yes they do. Every time I've been involved with a CP case, the media is all over it as soon as they find out. They love to put the 'bad guy gets busted' stories in the news.

    If they don't care about comics, why are the comics illegal. There is no harm in sharing even gigabytes of hentai images and the law that allows busting people for possesing/sharing virtual child porn is clearly bad. And yes, there are people who had problems just for small amount of hentai images, see here: http://www.animenation.net/blog/2010/08/02/sweden-fines-translator-for-having-hentai-images/ [animenation.net] (arrested for one scanlation) or here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.175488-Hentai-Collector-Sentenced-to-Jail-Over-Obscene-Material?page=1 [escapistmagazine.com] (arrested for six books)

    It's history repeating itself again. We saw similar nonsense when Lolita from Nabokov or Howl from Gingsberg were initialy published. How many people will need to be busted for lawmakers to get the the idea that the illegality of something must be based on it's level of social dangerousness and not on some false and ever-changing morality? The proponents of those bans often say that hentai/Howl/Lolita/whatever has no artistic value and is obscene, so it should be illegal, but who are they to judge the artistic value of something? And even if something realy has no artistic value, is it enough to justify its ilegality if it is otherwise harmless? I don't think so.

    I agree with the rest of your post (creation and sharing of child porn involving real children should be prosecuted, maybe with some exceptions to cover cases like 17 years old partners e-mailing nude images of themself to each other).

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:29AM (#40294619)

    The fact others download and view the material provide validation and acceptance to the producers which probably is worth far more than money

    I think you are seriously overestimating how valuable it is for a child abuser to know that there are people who like watching what he is doing. Producing and distributing child sex abuse imagery is one of the riskiest things a person can do -- almost no countries would hesitate to imprison people for it, and the jail sentences are often long or indefinite. Emotional validation is nowhere near sufficient to justify taking such risks; money or some other form of trade (e.g. one abuser trading new pictures with another) is basically a necessity.

    Sure, there is the occasional idiot who produces child abuse images for the reason you stated; such people are sometimes caught when the police are going after low-hanging fruit i.e. people whose only crime is possession of child abuse images. The really dangerous people are the ones who are not so stupid, the ones who take real precautions and who demand some form of payment for their images/videos. My understanding is that most of the child abuse imagery out there today was produced by that second category, by the people who are turning it into an enterprise of sorts. Those were the sort of people involved with Dreamboard (for those who do not remember, this was a truly depraved website for trading images of child abuse that was recently taken down), the sort involved with Yardbird (a group that used anonymous remailers and Usenet, which had escaped notice by the police until one of their members was inadvertently arrested), the sort who run "modeling" agencies in Eastern Europe, and so forth.

    The problem, of course, is that the sort of people I described above are not doing the sort of stupid things that allows the police to catch "low hanging fruit." These are not people who share their images on Kazaa (the FBI has an ongoing program to catch people who do), they are the sort of people who know how to mitigate and manage risk and how to use opsec to protect themselves. Catching them is a challenge, which is why it only happens rarely and only after years of investigative work.

    Of course, law enforcement agencies need to keep up their arrest numbers and need to remind people that they are catching "pedophiles." Thus you see efforts to catch low-hanging fruit, e.g. honeypot websites, efforts to catch people who download sex abuse images from peer-to-peer networks, arrests for possession of such images. These efforts do little to combat the production of child abuse imagery, and only catch idiots and people who were either curious or who just wanted to satisfy some bizarre urge. People who produce child abuse imagery have no way to count how many people are sharing those images on peer to peer networks, so even if your point were valid, such efforts are pointless.

    The original reason for making the possession of child abuse imagery illegal was the assumption (which at the time was valid) that anyone who possesses such imagery must have purchased it. That assumption is not valid in this century; I would be willing to be that the majority of people who possess child abuse imagery did not pay for it or in any way contribute to its production. We may find the images disturbing (and I would be suspicious of someone who does not), we may have difficulty understanding why anyone would want to masturbate to such imagery, we may not understand why people who collect and create detailed categories of such imagery, but we should not allow our disgust or our poor understanding of psychology lead us to assume that the low-hanging fruit represents a serious threat to children. There is a difference between someone with perverse fantasies and someone who is actually harming children.

  • by scot4875 (542869) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:37PM (#40298163) Homepage

    A common tactic used by pedophiles is to trivialise the offense by broadening the definition until it becomes meaningless, for example the congressman who was caught sending sexually explicit texts to 14yo boys

    That's not pedophilia. It's still wrong, but it's absolutely *not* pedophilia. Pedophilia is an attraction to pre-pubescent (or pre-pubescent-looking) children. If you're attracted to tits and shapely hips, you're not a pedophile. If you're attracted to fully functional penises, you're not a pedophile.

    The reason I piss in the wind to point this out is that misusing the word 'pedophile' cheapens its meaning. Calling someone who has a relationship/flirts with teenagers a pedophile lumps them in with people who molest 4-year-olds, when reality is that the things are *completely different*.

    --Jeremy

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