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sabato 6 maggio 2017

"Operation Pacifier"‘ Darknet child porn kingpin jailed

Over 360 people have been arrested across Europe as part of an investigation into online child sex abuse, with nearly 900 people arrested worldwide in a probe dubbed Operation Pacifier.
The investigation was led by the FBI and the US Department of Justice, and supported by Europol and other law enforcement agencies across the globe.
It followed the conviction of one of the lead administrators of one of the world's largest child abuse websites, which has more than 150,000 global users.
The administrator was sentenced to serve up to 30 years in a US prison. Two others have been sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the site.
Europol’s role in the investigation was to analyse data it received in order to identify users in Europe.
In a statement, the agency said: "Intelligence packages were prepared and disseminated to law enforcement authorities in countries including Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom."
The operation has so far led to the arrests of 870 people worldwide, with 368 arrests in Europe.
At least 259 sexually abused children have been identified or rescued from their abusers outside of the US.

Shedding light on the scope of the operation which is still active, the FBI revealed that in the US alone, 350 arrests were made as part of a wide-ranging investigation into Playpen – a secret website that is being referred to as possibly the biggest child pornography online dump that ever existed.

EU Commissioner for the Security Union, Sir Julian King, said a hugely significant blow has been struck against one of the most heinous of crimes, arguably the worst of all, thanks to the excellent transnational cooperation of Europol with the FBI and US Department of Justice, as well as other law enforcement agencies around the world.”
Playpen’s founder, Steven W. Chase, 58, was sentenced Monday to 30 years behind bars. The site he set up in August 2014 boasted some 150,000 users worldwide until it was taken down by the FBI following a controversial covert operation.
The agency said it had uncovered the site almost immediately after it had been launched but lacked information to trace the location or identity of the site’s owner as it was rooted in the deep web, meaning the site was only accessible through special software such as Tor.
Tor grants anonymity to its users and thereby is often described as a convenient platform for illicit activities, such as selling weapons, drugs or disseminating pornography.
However, Florida-based Chase inadvertently slipped up, revealing his site’s IP address, providing law enforcement with all the necessary leads.
Two of Chase’s aides, Michael Fluckiger and David Browning, both US citizens – who served as administrators of the site – were each jailed for 20 years.
Through a subsequent operation codenamed Operation Pacifier, the FBI succeeded in tracking down hundreds of the site’s users, sending “more than 1,000 leads” to FBI agents as well as to European authorities.
The FBI has been criticized for what it called “court-approved network investigative technique” used to unearth information about the suspects. It emerged that the agency, with court approval, seized and ran the pedophile website for 13 days in February 2015.
The FBI’s command of the Playpen site enabled the agency to infect over 8,000 users’ computers with malware and hack them. Notably, the site was said to be more efficient and even experienced a boost in audience numbers with the FBI in charge of its content.
Internet privacy experts found the FBI’s handling of the case highly questionable and contrary to privacy laws.
“The warrant here did not identify any particular person to search or seize. Nor did it identify any specific user of the targeted website,” Electronic Frontier Foundation said, calling into question the legality of the FBI’s actions.
However, the head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Steven Wilson, appeared to defend the controversial practice, saying in a statement that “If we operate with 19th century legal principles then we are unable to effectively tackle crime at the highest level.”
We need to balance the rights of victims versus the right to privacy,” Wilson argued, praising the cooperation between the US and European law enforcement in the case.

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