The recent investigation has left the public in a state of an utmost shock upon discovering that thousands of the British citizens were found to be linked to child abuse websites on the dark web. This even includes healthcare workers and even a former governor of a boarding school.
This information was discovered upon analyzing the data that leaked from a service provider known as Freedom Hosting II. Many of the UK internet users have had their account details uncovered. It should also be mentioned that this internet provider propped up around 20% of all the dark web forums and websites.
It’s also discovered that one of the websites had over 80,000 signed up users, and among them was an NHS employee from within the UK, a sex offender who used to work at the children’s hospital, and even an ex-school boss. Even one of the British businessmen was connected via the email address, the same one that was used for the LinkedIn account. One had ties to a woman’s Facebook profile, and it appears that she often posted pictures of her child.
The content in question can be found on the dark web, a part of the internet that can only be accessed through the Tor browser. Tor is a special, anonymous browser that protects the users by masking their location and protecting them online. The fact that the analysis might be skewed by the use of Tor or VPN services wasn’t addressed in the newspaper report. However, it’s said that 50 of the users that are found to be British citizens have had their details sent to NCA.
During the investigation, another illicit forum was found, and this one is accessible via the normal internet. The information from this forum indicated that up to 6% (10,000) of the users were found to be living in the UK. The spokesperson for the NCA has said that they’re aware of the leaked data and that they’re working on it with international law enforcement partners.
Hackers that were aligned with the Anonymous collective have attacked and managed to breach the Freedom Hosting II’s servers, stole entire gigabytes of incriminating data, and dumped it all on the dark web back in February. They also claimed that more than half of the websites that were targeted had some material connected to child abuse. While investigating the breach, the researchers have discovered email addresses, usernames, and passwords.
Freedom Hosting II as a company took over in 2014 after the FBI dismantled the original Freedom Hosting. They were discovered to be managing more than 20 child abuse sites. Only last year, the UK’s IWF discovered and removed over 68,000 URLs that hosted material connected to sexual abuse of children. It’s estimated by the NSPCC that half a million (at least) of the men from within the UK have seen the content. NSPCC’s chief executive, Peter Wanless, has stated that “The reality is that in [the internet’s] darkest corners terrible crimes are being committed against children.”
The administrator of another such website, called Playpen, was sentenced to 30 years in prison within the US on the May 1st. After additional investigation, 280 more British pedophiles were arrested on suspicion of being connected to the incident. For now, the number of arrested individuals is 368 when it comes to Europe, and 870 on the worldwide basis.