A ZDNet article reports that the Anonymous hacktivist[i] group has turned their focus to pedophile websites and will, according to sources, target anyone hosting, promoting or supporting child pornography.
Though Anonymous has yet to formally claim their role, the ZDNet article says those associated with the Anonymous say the group takes credit for “taking offline over 40 websites used for sharing pedophilia – and for exposing the names and identifying information of more than 1500 alleged pedophiles” all were active members of a site called Lolita City.
Apparently some of Anonymous’ came across the child pornography websites when some members were browsing a darknet[ii] site private network of computers used for file sharing site called Hidden Wiki.
Here’s a post on Pastebin.com relating to their cleanup under the name “operationdarknet”
#OpDarknet Press Release – 10/15/2011
———————— Timeline of Events ————————
At apprx 8:30 CST while browsing the Hidden Wiki we noticed a section called Hard Candy which was dedicated to links to child pornography. We then removed all links on the website, within 5 minutes the links were edited back in by an admin. For this reason, we will continue to make the Hidden Wiki unavailable.–
At apprx 8:45 CST we noticed 95% of the child pornography listed on the Hidden Wiki shared a digital fingerprint with the shared hosting server at Freedom Hosting.–
At apprx 9:00pm CST on October 14, 2011 We identified Freedom Hosting as the host of the largest collection of child pornography on the internet. We then issued a warning to remove the illegal content from their server, which they refused to do.–
At apprx 11:30pm CST on October 14, 2011 We infiltrated the shared hosting server of Freedom Hosting and shutdown services to all clients due to their lack of action to remove child pornography from their server.–
At apprx 5:00pm CST on October 15, 2011 Freedom Hosting installed their backups and restored services to their child pornography clients. We then issued multiple warnings to remove all child pornography from their servers, which Freedom Hosting refused to do.–
At apprx 8:00pm CST on October 15, 2011 despite new security features, we once again infiltrated the shared hosting server at Freedom Hosting and stopped service to all clients.
———————— Our Statement ————————
The owners and operators at Freedom Hosting are openly supporting child pornography and enabling pedophiles to view innocent children, fueling their issues and putting children at risk of abduction, molestation, rape, and death.
For this, Freedom Hosting has been declared #OpDarknet Enemy Number One.
By taking down Freedom Hosting, we are eliminating 40+ child pornography websites, among these is Lolita City, one of the largest child pornography websites to date containing more than 100GB of child pornography.
We will continue to not only crash Freedom Hosting’s server, but any other server we find to contain, promote, or support child pornography.
———————— Our Demands ————————
Our demands are simple. Remove all child pornography content from your servers. Refuse to provide hosting services to any website dealing with child pornography. This statement is not just aimed at Freedom Hosting, but everyone on the internet. It does not matter who you are, if we find you to be hosting, promoting, or supporting child pornography, you will become a target.
The takedown and exposure of websites and users dedicated to hosting, viewing, sharing, selling, swapping, trading or otherwise exploiting minors is a cause I can really support, though I still can’t condone hacking or vigilantism.
While these activities make for great stories they generally destroy the opportunity to prosecute rendering these pedophiles immune from prosecution.
I have personally worked with law enforcement agencies to help take down child predator rings in the past and have found law enforcement to be remarkably keen to prosecute and in need of top technical skills. I’ve also seen how the wildly popular ‘To Catch a Predator’ exposé series made prosecution of many of the men caught impossible.
If Anonymous really wants to make a positive impact by bringing these perverts to justice and rescue the children being exploited – and God Bless them if they do, – they need to volunteer their services to an international law enforcement body so that the world can truly benefit from their unquestionable skills and from the prosecution of these child abusers.
[i] Hacktivists are activists who hack websites to further their agenda
[ii] A darknet is a private network of computers used for file sharing that cannot be searched or reached by other computers on the internet