Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Crime Government United States

FBI "Took Over World's Biggest Child Porn Website" (telegraph.co.uk) 301

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Telegraph: The FBI took over the world biggest child pornography website in a sting operation intended to catch viewers of sexual images of children sometimes 'barely old enough for kindergarten', it has been revealed. The controversial operation ran for nearly two weeks last year, when the bureau took control of the Playpen website in an effort to weed out users who would normally be hidden because they accessed such sites through encrypted addresses. Agents have defended the dubious of ethics of a government agency running a child porn site by insisting there was no other way to catch offenders.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FBI "Took Over World's Biggest Child Porn Website"

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:31AM (#51355567)

    The ones who actually abuse the children. Are they doing anything about catching them?

    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      of course, that is what they do. unlike terrorism units that are massively over funded and under worked, the CP units are under funded and in a target rich environment.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @07:24AM (#51356457)

        Well then, you might be disturbed to learn that the later stages of Operation SunDevil were aborted because the 2/3 of the child porn links resolved to .gov & .mil addresses and the remaining 1/3 was almost all .org registered to tax exempt religious organizations.

        After signing up the local police of every state & the District of Columbia, the feds bailed at the last moment when they realized that the vast majority of registered users and providers of child porn were government and religious authorities.

        They even had the sign in books of hotels in DC frequented by underage prostitutes and various government employees.

  • This is crazy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:32AM (#51355569) Homepage

    I could understand it when it was a crime to cause harm to underage kids, like assaulting them or taking pictures of them. I can also understand how it would be bad to sell pictures of kids even if you haven't produced them yourself, there should not be a market for that.
    It starts to go downhill when it is a crime to download or just view (which is pretty much the same thing) an underage pic on your computer (and let's not go into ludicrous things like underage cartoon characters who are also considered verbotten!). Then they tell you the same thing is not a crime if you do it in order to catch other people doing it. So, is it a crime or isn't it? I don't know of another crime that it is OK to "perform" if you're "the good guy"...

    • Re:This is crazy... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by darkain ( 749283 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:52AM (#51355615) Homepage

      Cops violate civilian law all the time for the sake of enforcing the law. The main thing that comes to mind is speeding, running red lights, and blocking traffic. And of course, an entire debate can start from cops usage of firearms.

      • Re:This is crazy... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @01:13AM (#51355681) Homepage

        Cops violate civilian law all the time for the sake of enforcing the law. The main thing that comes to mind is speeding, running red lights, and blocking traffic. And of course, an entire debate can start from cops usage of firearms.

        Not even remotely close to comparable situations.

        But if you wanted some comparable situations, you could point at Law Enforcement using under-cover officers posing as prostitutes to catch 'Johns' for soliciting prostitutes. Kind of a similar situation. I guess since Law Enforcement is allowed to do that, this probably is being allowed for much the same reason. Could also compare it to Law Enforcement attempting to buy or sell drugs in order to catch dealers and users. All of it is pretty devious if you asked me.

        I know I've seen some Law Enforcement reality shows where Law Enforcement busts a drug dealer, then stays in their residence for a few hours to catch users coming over to buy drugs. So that does happen, very similar to honeypotting a seized kiddie porn site. But I personally don't like it, I think it's just low. Gets a bit too close to entrapment for my taste.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          you could point at Law Enforcement using under-cover officers posing as prostitutes to catch 'Johns' for soliciting prostitutes. Kind of a similar situation. I guess since Law Enforcement is allowed to do that, this probably is being allowed for much the same reason. Could also compare it to Law Enforcement attempting to buy or sell drugs in order to catch dealers and users. All of it is pretty devious if you asked me

          yeah the worst part is how they conduct the negotiations. I've seen plenty of cop shows w

          • by Damouze ( 766305 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @03:14AM (#51355901)

            That is why entrapment is forbidden in a lot of countries in the world. It is tempting people who might otherwise never commit such a crime into commiting a crime. It is inventing/creating criminals and that is not a thing we as citizens should condone of our respective law enforcement agencies.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by phorm ( 591458 )

              I'm fairly sure the people visiting the site were going there regardless of whether or not the FBI had control of it, so in this case it's not entrapment.

              Now if they were running targeted ads against a group group advertising the site, that would be entrapment. This is simply bait.

            • Entrapment or not, these suspects are among the most loathed people in society. You could add war crimes and regicide to the charges and a jury would probably still convict.

        • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @02:32AM (#51355829)

          The officers that distributed child pornography committed felonies. The government is not allowed to commit felonies in the pursuit of criminals. In fact with this knowledge in hand any attempt to prosecute anyone involved is under threat of having the evidence suppressed because of the felony.

          This would be akin to officers selling drugs on the street and allowing everyone to drive off after purchasing in the hope that maybe they could catch a couple of them several weeks later. This would not be legal and the officers would be prosecuted for distribution of a controlled substance and sent to prison. All the FBI agents involved should be prosecuted for distribution of child pornography.

          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            I thought officers regularly did such things and would plant trackers in cash or drugs etc in order to try and catch offenders...
            Police also often commit felonies like murder in the performance of their duties. We don't jail any cop who shoots a suspect, we investigate to determine if they were justified in doing so.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )

              They do not commit murder in the performance of their duties.

              When they commit murder the public gets upset, the city that hires them loses millions, they lose their jobs and sometimes (not often enough) they go to jail.

              The situation actually analogous to your situation is if the police murdered a person when told to while undercover. That would be murder.

              Police in large scale undercover operations are allowed to consume drugs (they have to report it as soon as possible and get treatment after the undercove

            • Police also often commit felonies like murder in the performance of their duties. We don't jail any cop who shoots a suspect, we investigate to determine if they were justified in doing so.

              That's not murder until the investigation determines they were not justified. If they were justified, then its considered something else (not sure which term the law would apply....self defense? justifiable homicide? another term that applies specifically for police officers?)

          • In general I disagree with you. I'm alright with authorities having to set up more elaborate sting operations which require breaking laws to catch criminal. Maybe not your more contrived example of selling drugs indiscriminately and letting everyone run off, but I'd certainly support something like selling drugs in an effort to get further into a major drug organization in hopes of getting access to the top players in the organization. There are limits though. Selling drugs (to adults, not children/teens),

        • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

          When I wrote the OP the under-cover prostitutes did come in mind, but the cops themselves don't actually perform the act. And note, performing the act in this case would mean the under-cover cops to do the sex part AND KEEP THE MONEY!

        • But if you wanted some comparable situations, you could point at Law Enforcement using under-cover officers posing as prostitutes to catch 'Johns' for soliciting prostitutes.

          This would be comparable if said under-cover officers were actually having sex with their targets. Which, incidentally they have done in the other direction -- with cops having sex with a prostitute to "verify that she really is a prostitute" and then arresting her.

      • Cops violate civilian law all the time for the sake of enforcing the law. The main thing that comes to mind is speeding, running red lights, and blocking traffic.

        Aren't those specific exceptions to the law granted to police officers? i.e. the law specifically allows emergency vehicles to go through red lights and for them to speed when responding to an emergency. I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty certain there will not be an exemption to the laws about distribution of child pornography to let the police do it.

        In similar types of cases involving lures to catch criminals in the act the police stop short of actually committing the crime themselves: if posing as a hit

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          These are all very specific exceptions granted under very specific circumstances. A cop that fetches coffee with sirens blaring has a real problem when caught, for example. If they now get allowed to distribute, the next step is to allow them making it or at least not doing anything to stop others making it when they know it is going on and they could stop it. This is a very, very bad precedent.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @03:49AM (#51355961)

        Cops are not allowed to rape people under any circumstances and with good reason. The whole argument against CP is that it victimizes those displayed again. Hence the FBI committed mass child-abuse in a very real sense.

        • I thought the argument was that if you want it, you're creating a demand for it, which means it will be created, which means children will be abused (or, you know, will take pictures to give to their boyfriend, who then posts them on 4chan after they break up, whatever). I hadn't heard "victimizes those displayed" before. It's a better argument for banning such media if you take the premise (that viewing causes victimization) as true, but that seems a shakier premise than that demand creates a market...

          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            It is the an argument frequently used by the DoJ, so it should be what the FBI uses as well. I am not saying there are not other arguments as well, I am just saying that by the argumentation of the DoJ, the FBI did something akin to raping all these children again. And it is even worse than when some random Internet user uploads/downloads this stuff, because a) the FBI must have expected this to become public knowledge, i.e. the victims would _know_ they have been victimized again and b) this time it was th

        • The whole argument against CP is that it victimizes those displayed again.

          What? Who told you that? They're stupid, and you should feel bad for repeating their stupidity. The primary argument against CP is that someone has to make it, and the demand for new CP (there is always demand for new content in any kind of media) can only be fulfilled by abusing children.

          Hence the FBI committed mass child-abuse in a very real sense.

          They really, really didn't, because no additional children had to be abused for them to maintain the site. However, they did help fuel the demand for new CP, just like any other distributor of CP — which is the other

          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            The whole argument against CP is that it victimizes those displayed again.

            What? Who told you that? They're stupid, and you should feel bad for repeating their stupidity. The primary argument against CP is that someone has to make it, and the demand for new CP (there is always demand for new content in any kind of media) can only be fulfilled by abusing children.

            I did not say this was my argument. It is however the official position of the DoJ. And I do not believe this position is stupid, because if even one victim feels victimized again if pictures of their rape get distributed, then it is a valid position.

            Incidentally, there is apparently exceptionally little CP that is made to "fulfill demand" or for commercial reasons according to a law-enforcement source that should know. Sure, people that are abusing their children anyways may also take pictures if they can

      • Law enforcement receives substantial additional vehicle training and have lights and sirens to make other drivers aware when they responding to an emergency or blocking an intersection. Law enforcement is allowed to carry restricted firearms and to do so in restricted areas (such as bars) while on duty, but again they have substantial additional training and are performing a specific function. The conditions for legally discharging their firearms are pretty much the same as for you or I.

        The privileges of a

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        You do know there are specific exceptions in firearms discharge laws, and speed laws for law enforcement and emergency responders right?

        So no they are not breaking the law when they do those things at least not when they do them while performing an otherwise lawful enforcement or rescue action.

      • Not even close. It may be different in your country, but there are VERY strict definitions on when they may use those privileges in my country. Speeding and running red lights requires them to turn on their flashy gimmicks, pretty much telling everyone in a mile wide radius "Here comes law enforcement, get the fuck out of my way", and if they use it to get to the doughnut shop in time and you catch them, you can easily get them in enough trouble that they will not be allowed near a car with the flashy gimmi

      • Cops violate civilian law all the time for the sake of enforcing the law. The main thing that comes to mind is speeding, running red lights, and blocking traffic.

        It's interesting you mention that, since the cops' own rules and regulations typically require them to use lights (and when in motion, sirens) whenever they do that, but they typically don't bother. You're lucky if they remember to turn on the Arrowstik when they park in the middle of the road. Rules are for the sheeple, not our fearless leaders.

      • by kbg ( 241421 )

        There are specific laws that allows the police to speed, block traffic and use firearms. Is there a special law that allows cops to view child porn?

    • by neo8750 ( 566137 )
      Umm what about the undercover cop that sells drugs to victim drug users?? They don't just take their money and cuff them they usually make a true deal and the user is grabbed once the drugs are in their possession.
      • Umm what about the undercover cop that sells drugs to victim drug users?? They don't just take their money and cuff them they usually make a true deal and the user is grabbed once the drugs are in their possession.

        When an operation like that is conducted it's typically fake drugs. Pharma companies like Purdue and Actavis sell identical copies of their oxycodone pills without the oxycodone to law enforcement for example. Powders are obviously easy to fake. But in any case, they sure as hell don't sell to tens of thousands of buyers, let the buyers go home, enjoy the drugs, and pass some along to others, then sell some more to them a few days later, maybe bust them or not some months later, or if they're not US citizen

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It starts to go downhill when it is a crime to download or just view (which is pretty much the same thing) an underage pic on your computer (and let's not go into ludicrous things like underage cartoon characters who are also considered verbotten!).

      The problem here is... just viewing the picture is creating a 'demand' for such material, and therefore a supply must be created, which exploits minors. I'm not really on board with the drawings of such things being forbidden as well, that seems like overkill to me, and drawings may supply the consumers of such materials that aren't exploitative of minors. It's an ugly nasty situation for sure.

      Then they tell you the same thing is not a crime if you do it in order to catch other people doing it. So, is it a crime or isn't it? I don't know of another crime that it is OK to "perform" if you're "the good guy"...

      I definitely have a problem with a honeypot situation involving child porn. I've already said in other posts, co

      • The problem here is... just viewing the picture is creating a 'demand' for such material, and therefore a supply must be created, which exploits minors. I'm not really on board with the drawings of such things being forbidden as well, that seems like overkill to me, and drawings may supply the consumers of such materials that aren't exploitative of minors. It's an ugly nasty situation for sure.

        Not necessarily. Certainly if someone's paying for it, they're going to incentivise production. But at the other en

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mikael ( 484 )

        It wasn't a honeypot trap. The site existed before the Fed's took over. They got around the Tor encryption by getting some JavaScript/Java/PHP code to run on the host PC and extract the IP address that way. Stack Overflow and a hundred other blogs will all explain how to do this within a standard webpage. No illegal downloading of executables, DLL's, shared object files or modification of kernel permissions. Just plain web page design:

        http://javascript.about.com/li... [about.com]

      • The problem here is... just viewing the picture is creating a 'demand' for such material, and therefore a supply must be created, which exploits minors. I'm not really on board with the drawings of such things being forbidden as well, that seems like overkill to me, and drawings may supply the consumers of such materials that aren't exploitative of minors. It's an ugly nasty situation for sure.

        You're saying people have sex with children just to get some high fives online? It's illogical on its face. They might be more likely to record it if they're already doing it, but that's about it. Commercial transactions are an entirely different issue. Also, some people enjoy watching children beaten and brutally murdered. But that's legal (as long as the child isn't naked) to possess pictures/videos of. People get off on adults being raped too, but videos of that are legal. If viewing encourages the act,

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Killing or injuring someone is usually a crime, but in certain circumstances it's not such as self defence or in the performance of law enforcement / military duties.

  • Questions. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:33AM (#51355571)

    ... accessed such sites through encrypted addresses.

    Do they mean Tor and such? Because if so, then how did they get addresses even when they were running it?

    Also, why not just remove all the images so that the links show errors. You'd achieve the same end results but you wouldn't be hosting or DISTRIBUTING kiddie porn. Claim it was a drive failure or whatever.

    Not to mention possibly being able to track the people who complained about the images being broken. Get them to use another, non-Tor, way to check when the images would be fixed.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      ... accessed such sites through encrypted addresses.

      Do they mean Tor and such? Because if so, then how did they get addresses even when they were running it?

      Also, why not just remove all the images so that the links show errors. You'd achieve the same end results but you wouldn't be hosting or DISTRIBUTING kiddie porn. Claim it was a drive failure or whatever.

      Not to mention possibly being able to track the people who complained about the images being broken. Get them to use another, non-Tor, way to check when the images would be fixed.

      Because they want the site visitors to click around enough that they can get infected by the malware that phones home and lets the FBI break through their anonymizing software. So when they cleverly cover their tracks by using an anonymous VPN to connect to another anonymous VPN to connect to an anonymous web proxy to connect to Tor, when they drop the anonymizers to buy more hand lotion from Amazon, the FBI can see their beacon and track them down.

      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        Anything they were going to upload they could upload while the users were reading the "explanation" about the "drive failure".

        The same with anything they might be able to download from the users' machines.

        Easier still would be to set up a junk Twitter account and ask those users to follow it for updates on the "repair" work. Then get a warrant and ask Twitter for the details of anyone following that account.

        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          When people are knowingly committing a crime they get spooked easily, a notice about a drive failure could cause someone to suspect the truth and start covering their tracks. The only evidence would be the fact they accessed the site very briefly, which a good lawyer could claim was accidental or otherwise performed without the intent of accessing child porn.

          It's not uncommon for users to briefly access site they didn't intend to, sites can get hacked and filled with bogus links, search engine results are o

    • TOR is broken as far as I'm concerned. The fact that it was funded by the US government always did seem suspicious. In fact there was a recent story about the feds paying CMU to run thousands of fake nodes.

    • Many of these sites are paid-for sites: the operators run them in order to make money.

      The access logs (if they exist in the first place) won't give originating IP addresses - information of which could then be used to find home addresses through ISP records, and get search warrants and the like. The most reasonable way to find people accessing these sites, is through payment details. See who pays for it - and go after them. It also instantly negates the "I got there accidentally, saw those images, it's not

  • by Lirodon ( 2847623 )
    I'm Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC. Why don't you have a seat over there?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @01:19AM (#51355693)

    I've been abused in my youth. I don't think any photos were taken, but if they were, the idea that the government I elected is distributing them is far more abhorrent to me than the idea that a bunch of creeps is gawping at them. The latter are people who need serious therapy but who pose no threat sweating behind a monitor, while the former are the very model of power imbalance against a helpless child.

    If I witness news footage showing someone dying (e.g. war, terrorist attack, police shoot-out, whatever) then I'm not re-murdering them. But there are ethical questions involved in distributing such videos: am I being respectful to the memory of the deceased or survivors? am I glorifying the murder? am I exploiting the murder? am I providing sufficient warning? and so on. Shitlords on the Internet will spam such videos insensitively as "gore", and they remain shitlords, but that's all. Governments, however, are acting on my behalf. They should not just do what is legal, but avoid doing what is not ethical.

    In particular, a government's duty is to publicise third parties only when the public interest in the content of the publication outweighs the harm to the third parties. If there is no benefit in the public consuming the content, but instead the content is being used for some further aim, the publication is not occurring in the public interest. Rather, the subjects of the content are being exploited non-consensually.

    So, the police might distribute CCTV of a hooligan attack which shows the parts of the victims (probably face blurred out), even if the victims cannot all be identified. This would help make the public aware of an attacker, and give them the opportunity to report sightings to the police: obvious public interest in the content of the publication. But to use the video not to find the perpetrator but, instead, to identify other people who want to watch it - telling the victims that they need to have their attack watched over and over to stop those who want to watch them being attacked - is patently absurd.

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @01:23AM (#51355701) Journal
    I think the only real issue people have with this is that if the FBI can justify such tactics then whats to stop them from doing the same to WikiLeaks
    • I think the only real issue people have with this is that if the FBI can justify such tactics then whats to stop them from doing the same to WikiLeaks

      Wikileaks would probably have a meaningful First Amendment defense. Child pornography site, not so much.

  • The Abyss (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @01:37AM (#51355731)

    Once again, Nietzsche knew what he was talking about:

    "Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster...
    for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you."

  • Big deal... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @01:56AM (#51355785) Journal

    How many producers of child porn were caught in this "sting"?

    • Re:Big deal... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @02:28AM (#51355825)

      How many producers of child porn were caught in this "sting"?

      Zero probably. Its so much easier to catch the users here instead and claim a nice PR victory than actually try and solve a problem.

      It's exactly like the war on drugs, just with an even touchier subject. The problem is all imported. This shit is being made over seas, in places where the laws are different, people don't give a fuck, or are corrupt enough to be bought off, or all three. And as long as all we do is focus on the end user instead of the source, we will piss away lots and lots of money, and accomplish sweet fuck all.

      Except these criminals don't have to smuggle 100 tons of coke across the border. Five minutes and a high speed internet connection and they are set. We can't hope to try and keep it "out" because it not a physical product to be intercepted anymore. We can't possibly get anywhere in terms of restricting access, we either get the source, or fail.

  • FBI Took Over World's Biggest Child Porn Website

    So they have them all indexed and ranked, but they just decided to go after the biggest one ?

    Seems like they are more interested in going after the viewers than the producers.

    • You should add "they know about" to the end of that headline.

      Of what I heard about it, it seems that a lot of this child porn is made in places outside the US. That means the producers are outside of US jurisdiction (and somehow in this case it seems the FBI cares about that little detail), making it very hard to go after them. So instead they go after the offenders they can go after: Americans on US soil that actively seek out those images, thus helping in sustaining the market.

  • It seems an awfully small number of arrests compared to the 100,000 accounts. Even assuming that most accounts are probably dead we're talking about roughly 0.1% efficiency.

    Was it the usual? You only catch the dumb ones?

  • Why does it seem like the system spends all of the effort going after the small problem. I would argue that people viewing the pictures are causing less harm than the people making the pictures in the first place. Yes they should have shut down the site but found out where the pictures were uploaded from and gone after the content creators. And not the people who write fictional stories and the cartoons. Those aren't the high priority. While disgusting children weren't harmed in it's creation. Go after t

  • So if there's no other way for me to do something than to break federal laws, it's OK to break them?! Neat!

  • The argument against distributing, as opposed to producing, child porn is that people seeing the images harm the victims. That harm is believed to be very great, resulting in long jail sentences for people who distribute or view child porn.

    If that is true, then the FBI did great harm to those innocent victims by distributing the pictures.

    If that is not true, then we need to re-evaluate why viewing child porn is such a serious felony.

    It is NOT OK for the the FBI to do a few contract murders to try to catch c

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

Working...