Online child sexual abuse web material remains rampant despite the efforts of big tech companies as well as governments to stop it. According to reports, it has become even more common during the COVID-19 epidemic.
These materials largely store on the anonymous internet part the darknet. Where they can be share with little to no fear of being prosecute. There are only a few websites that offer anonymous internet access at the moment, such as i2p and FreeNet.
Tor is the most complex and largest network. By encrypting users information and allowing them to be tamper with by internet service providers, the open-source browser and network grants anonymity.
Edward Snowden, an online privacy advocate, has praised the benefits of these platforms, claiming that they protect freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and civil rights. They also have a dark side.
Tor’s Perverted Underground World Web
The US Navy originally developed the Tor Project to protect online intelligence communications. It was release publicly in 2002. The Tor Project’s creators have admitted that there is a possibility of misuse. This service, along with technology such as untraceable crypto, can be use to hide criminals.
Tor is an overlay network which exists on top of the internet. It combines two technologies. The onion service software is the first. These websites are call onion service software and they are host on the Tor network. These sites require an onion address, and the servers physical locations kept secret from users.
Tor’s privacy-maximizing browser is the second. It allows users to surf the internet anonymously, hiding their location and identity. The Tor browser is require to access onion services. However, it can also browse the “surface”, internet.
It is easy to access the Tor network. Although search engines are limit (no Google), it is easy to find onion services. To name a few, Tor has a verified presence of the BBC, New York Times and ProPublica as well as Facebook, the CIA, Pornhub, Facebook, Twitter, and ProPublica.
The Hidden Wiki, which lists addresses on the network and allows users to find other (often illegal) service dictionaries, is one example of a service dictionary.
Abuse Porn And Child Sex Abuse Material Are Web Common
Although the Tor Project estimates that there are approximately 170,000 active addresses, it is not possible to determine the number of onion service providers on the Tor network. The network architecture allows partial monitoring of network traffic and provides a summary of services visited. Child sex abuse material is a common service.
One study found that only 2% (522,000) of the Tor network users used onion services each day out of the estimated 2.6million users who use it daily. This means that most users use the Tor network to protect their online privacy and not for anonymous onion services.
However, the same study revealed that around 80% of traffic to onion service sites was directed to illegal porn, child sex, and abuse images.
Another study found that 53.4% of 170,000 active onion domains had legal content. This suggests that 46.6% of services contained content that was illegal or in a gray area.
Scams are a large part of these services. However, there is also cryptocurrency services, drugs deals, malware and weapons, stolen credentials, counterfeit goods, child sex abuse material, and other dark parts of the internet.
Tor Network Can Sold For Profit
It is believed that only 7.5% of child sex abuse material found on the Tor network can be sold for profit. Most of the material is simply traded because most of the people involved aren’t in it to make a profit. Nevertheless, some services charge content fees.
Several prominent onion services that hosted child sex abuse material were shut down after extensive cross-jurisdictional enforcement operations. These included The Love Zone website (2014), PlaypEn 2015, and Child’s Play 2017.
The illegal website Boystown was shut down in May after a joint effort by German police and others, including the FBI and Europol.
However, one of the most popular child sex abuse forums online (not just Tor), has been evading law enforcement and activist takedown attempts for over a decade. It had 508,721 registered users as of last month. It has over one million images and videos of child abuse material and porn since 2013.
Early adopters of Tor’s anonymous discussion forums include the paedophile web (eroticisation pre-pubescent children), haebephile and ephebophile communities. Forum members share media, support one another and exchange tips to avoid being caught by police and scammers.
According to the 2019 Global Threat Assessment Report by We Protect Alliance, there were over 2.88 million users using ten forums that are dedicated to paraphilia and paedophilia via onion services.
It is a difficult task for law enforcement to prosecute anyone who distributes or produces child sex abuse material online. This criminal activity often found in multiple jurisdictions making it difficult to detect and prosecute.
It is essential to use innovative online investigative methods and undercover operations. Targeted hacks, which allow law enforcement back-door access sites or forums that host child sex abuse material, are one example.
These operations made possible by cybercrime, transnational organise crime treaties that address child sex abuse material, and the trafficking women and children.
A focus on onion forums and directories may be helpful in harm reduction, given the volatile nature many onion services. We don’t know much about the influence these forums have on onion services hosting child sex abuse material.
Forum members can not only coordinate to avoid detection but also share web information about police activity and rate onion service vendors. They can also expose scams that target them.
Monitoring forums by outsiders may lead to actionable interventions such as the successful profiling and arrest of active offenders. To promote self-regulation within these groups, some agencies have looked into using civil society experts, undercover police officers or civil society officials (such as the We Protect Global Alliance and ECPAT International).
Although there is not much research, it is possible for reformed offenders to offer advice to others. Sub-forums intend to educate, encourage treatment, and reduce harm. They focus on legal and medical issues related to child sex abuse material and how to control urges.
Other contraband services can also play a part. The onion services that deal with illicit drug, malware, and other trading often ban child sex abuse material.
Why is Tor allowing such abhorrent material, despite opposition from many sometimes even members of these groups? Most likely, Tor representatives have seen complaints and survivor reports regarding child sex abuse material.