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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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  • by WarmBoota (675361) on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:26PM (#40291401) Homepage
    This is why we can't have nice things. I would LOVE to support democracy locally and internationally by running a Tor node, but I would never run one as long as the risk existed that I'd be questioned about kiddie porn. I know I'm innocent, I could be PROVEN innocent, but anyone who ever heard would always think I was guilty. It's just not worth it to me. It's Kryptonite to free speech.
  • The real reason? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:05PM (#40291697)

    Whilst I am of course against child pornography, I get the feeling this isn't the real reason. Instead child-porn is now the catch-all excuse the FBI/NSA/CIA/whoever will use every time to try and legislate against any and all kinds of encryption, sharing or anonymising system that they can't get into.

    No politician will stand up to defend our rights if it means they also risk being perceived as possibly defending child abuse.

    I'm far more inclined to believe the real interest behind this is the RIAA/MPAA who want to make it impossible to anonymously share files at all and/or the gov itself who want to monitor every email, IM and keystroke we make online.

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:06PM (#40291699)
    While the are both horrible, would you rather find out that your child was molested, or find their dead body on your front yard? No, murder is worse.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:24PM (#40291851)

    Is absolute tyrannical control over communications really the only alternative to pure unstoppable anonymity?

    Maybe I'll take C), where the government obtains valid, reasonable, limited, warrants for the monitoring of communications, carries out those warrants, and finds the bad guys.

    I can't believe this got modded "insightful"... methinks the mods (and the parent) need to read up on the logical fallacy called the False Dilemma.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:25PM (#40291857)

    Child abuse is special because it occurs when a child's personality and identity is developing. Severe mental disorders often occur due to child abuse, especially repeated child abuse. One example is borderline personality disorder which occurs more often among children who are repeatedly raped.

    Severe mental disorders don't always occur, but the fact the the worst types of mental disorders occur to child abuse victims makes it a special type of crime. It elevates it above crimes like assault and rape (which also has severe mental health impacts). The psychological trauma involved in child abuse will often make a normal life and even transient moments of happiness impossible for the survivor. Some people consider this a fate worse than death (especially for the major disorders like BPD, CPTSD, and dissociative identity disorder). The suicide rates of child abuse survivors are astronomical--molestation will often lead to the death of the abused child, but only after years and years of a tortured existence and then by their own hands.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:26PM (#40291861)

    Having known more than one abuse survivor that tried to kill themself as a result of the PTSD, and one that did succeed...

    Yeah -- there are worse crimes. There's crimes that destroy the very fucking mind and sanity of the person leaving only the barest shell of a human being in their body.

    There's things that happened to them that left at least two women lying awake at night, shrieking in raw terror for hours. That had them burst into panicked tears if they saw a man with his fly unzipped.

    I know they /wanted/ death.

    So fuck your analysis about grandstanding and irrational. For ten to fifteen years of their lives they would happily have chosen death. It might not always be worse -- but even if you asked them today, I'm pretty sure the wish they'd succeeded in ending their own lives just to escape the memories and issues they caused.

  • by wanderfowl (2534492) on Monday June 11, 2012 @11:50PM (#40292007)

    Reading the comments on this thread, I'm realizing that likely within our lifetimes, we'll be having the same debate about strong cryptography that we're now having about guns, likely spurred on by stories like this about pedophiles, terrorists, "hackers" and all those other scary people on the internets.

    Some of the same talking points are already in use ("We'll need them when the government comes for us", "Only criminals need them", "If they're banned, only criminals will have them and we'll be defenseless", etc), and strong cryptography, much like guns, are something that the governments and law enforcement fear as they can make it possible for people to break the law (just or otherwise) without the government being able to stop them.

    I hope I'm wrong, and of course, you can't quite ban code so easily, but still, a scary future and an unpleasant debate may well be ahead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:06AM (#40292109)

    Grown men who watch manga, with its thinly veiled sexualization of young girls, probably need to take a hard look at themselves.
    It may not be illegal, but it's certainly pathetic.

  • by jaymemaurice (2024752) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:19AM (#40292181)

    Exactly what you say, but additionaly:
    Where tor is illegal for all citizens, all citizens using tor are commiting a crime. Detecting tor users is simple. You may not know why they are using tor, but does that matter? I mean you can just send some people to the point of internet connection and find out. Tor cannot serve the ideal purpose it was "originally created" for and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves or others.

  • by million_monkeys (2480792) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:54AM (#40292335)

    You're posting links to videos (without including any description of what's in the video) in the comments to a child porn story???

    As has been pointed out above, if one of them happens to be kiddie porn, everyone who clicks on it suddenly become a sex offender (at least in the US) through no fault of their own. Maybe that was your point, i don't know.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:46AM (#40292537)

    I guess since the thinkofthechildren crowd became worse.

    Simple egoism. NAMBLA won't affect me, the thinkofthechildren crowd might. We're at the point where you could go to jail if some pervert judge gets a boner over your kid's pics that you thought were innocent.

  • by GrandCow (229565) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @03:22AM (#40292887)

    It's just pictures. Better the creeps inside jacking off than outside doing it personally. Isn't it time to get the government out of the bedroom?

    If you've ever stumbled onto CP through any of the random image polling scripts from the image sites, what you see can be soul crushing. The looks on the children's faces are that of absolute depression and mental anguish. These children never had the option to say 'no' or reject what was happening to them... they were forced into their situation and what is happening to them will destroy their entire futures. They didn't start doing drugs and have to resort to porn to pay for their addictions, they were kidnapped and didn't know what was happening until their childhoods were irrevocably destroyed.

    I support tracking down anyone who is sharing these images, since it leads to either one single person not sharing them with others, or (hopefully) maybe to the source. Yes, some people who are deprived of images will proceed to attempting abductions in real life; BUT these same people have a fairly high chance of doing the same thing with or without pictures. The larger idea of stopping these pictures from going out is to stop the BUSINESSES of child porn. There are people that kidnap and rape children just because they get paid for it. That is one of the things the government is trying to stop. Take away the subscribers and even if you can never find the source, at least the businesses stop getting paid and hopefully do less abuse to children.

    TOR is awesome... it allows people in countries that are locked down to communicate freely and see beyond the propaganda that their governments are forcing on them; unfortunately though, in a system with absolute anonymity there will be those sick individuals that post and share images that society as a whole knows are horrible. Some of those will never be traceable, and that is sad but also the entire point of the TOR project. I would like to be able to trace them and shut them down, but that same ability would allow oppressive governments to shut down whatever they didn't like when they see dissenting opinions.

    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.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @03:44AM (#40292953)

    In short, he would have probably served a shorter time if he actually was a pedo who raped and killed his own kids without taking pictures of it.

    This would be ridiculous if it wasn't so sick.

  • by dbet (1607261) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @04:47AM (#40293173)
    So, just for argument's sake... when I was 14 I video-taped myself masturbating on camera. 12 years later, tools came out that let me convert the video to an MPG. 12 years after THAT, is today. I'm an adult, who may or may not possess images of a sexual nature involving a minor (me). Tell me who is harmed if I decide to share them.
  • by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:58AM (#40293861) Homepage

    "I now firmly believe it should be a offence to knowingly posses what the GP described (images of pre-pubecent child rape, or for that matter any rape). Yes that opinion puts a limit on free speech but it does not have to limit the visual and theatrical arts. Yes it's debatable if jacking off to CP is harmful/helpful to society, but contrary to popular opinion around here we do in fact live in a democracy and the vast majority of the population (including me) think prosecuting these people who jack off to rape videos is The RightThingToDo(TM), like me they are not going to change their minds just because someone, somewhere, (allegedly) abuses the justice system once in a blue moon*."

    A couple of things....

    First, I feel bad for pedophiles. I didn't used to really, in fact I never really thought about it until I was hanging out with some friends and ended up watching that train wreck "to catch a predator". The biggest alcoholic in the group had one of those clarity moments and said "boy, for all my bad addictions, I am so glad I don't have that desire" (though, admittedly I have seen them claim people on that show were going to meet "kids" as old as 16, which, is getting into those fuzzy areas...shit 16 is legal here...)

    You know...I am glad I don't either. Yes, as much as I want to be against law in all cases, its good to stop the rape of children, and dealing with the people who do that is a good thing, and justified. The ones who just jack off to kids... yah maybe they are a danger and need to be dealt with too but... there is a difference in action and, arn't these people sick? It seems like, prison isn't exactly the right answer, though, leaving them be is probably not a good idea either.

    Now that said... "but contrary to popular opinion around here we do in fact live in a democracy and the vast majority of the population (including me) think prosecuting these people who jack off to rape videos is The RightThingToDo(TM)"

    No, its a constitutional democracy, and actually a republic. The point of a constitution is that majority opinion is great for many things but, is not the right way to decide civil rights, because it really means not having them. It takes a lot more than majority opinion to take those away, or it was supposed to. Turns out the system can be pretty well gamed when few understand and less care.... and has been.

  • by gorzek (647352) <gorzek&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:20AM (#40296043) Homepage Journal

    I think where things go a bit astray is that authorities view child pornography almost exactly like they do the drug trade. You have producers, dealers, and users.

    Producers of drugs and child pornography fill the same basic role: they create a product for which there is a demand.

    Dealers are a little different. Drug dealers, of course, take money in exchange for the drugs. Child porn "dealers," on the other hand, would be those running websites, most of which are free. I think very few people are making any actual money from it.

    Then you have the users/consumers. When it comes to drugs, users consume the drugs themselves (usually.) Since child porn has gone almost 100% digital, though, there is no "consumption" in the sense that a person uses up a finite product. People who view child porn can also share it (read: make copies) so they can also be "dealers."

    Authorities try to go after all three tiers in the child porn market, just like they do with drugs, seemingly failing to realize that money is not a key factor in child porn the way it is with drugs. It makes the most sense to focus on the producers of child porn, and those who operate websites distributing it, rather than people who may have downloaded it. In other words: attack it the way copyright infringement is generally attacked, by going after those who make the infringement possible rather than trying to hunt down large numbers of individual infringers. (This is not meant to draw any kind of moral parallel between copyright infringement and child porn, nor between drug use and child porn, it's just about enforcement strategy.)

    On the other hand, I can kind of see why they go after individual users: publicly embarrassing people either due to their drug use or taste for child porn could be seen as a significant deterrent. But then that's really nothing to do with any kind of justice, it's just a cynical use of the system to make people behave a certain way.

  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:56AM (#40296511) Journal

    The fucked up part is it's worse than you describe. If you're a pedophile, you can't even seek help; if you mention your desires to a counselor, it is immediately to be considered as though you have described a planned crime in detail and to be reported to police immediately following the session. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what happens after that.

    So, if you have ever find yourself sexually attracted to a minor, you're kind of screwed. If you don't see anything wrong with it and you act on it, you're probably going away for that. If you do see something wrong with it and seek help, you're probably going away for that.

    Prison is an eventuality for a pedophile. If you seek help, you will be reported and arrested; if you don't seek help, you will eventually act on it.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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