There are thousands of incidents of child pornography and online predators on the Internet. We don’t usually hear about the websites being taken down and the arrests made unless the reports make the mainstream media, and we all sit collectively horrified as we watch the nightly news. As a parent, the victimization of children infuriates me, and to me there is nothing worse than children being sexually exploited. The idea that people abuse children in this way makes me furious. And I’m not the only one.
One of the reasons I started closely following the actions of Anonymous is because one of their main objectives at any given moment is putting a stop to child porn and the exploitation of children on the Internet. In October of 2011, they put Operation Darknet into action and took down an insidious website called “Lolita City”, where users could exchange child pornography.
Anonymous members and sects continue to hunt child predators on the Internet, and I spoke with one member who has made putting an end to child pornography his life’s work.
How did you learn to find predators on the internet? You work through various social media websites, online games, and regular websites?
Basically, we are all over the Internet. Websites, online games, chat rooms, social media such as Twitter. I am self taught, however I am constantly learning new things everyday thanks to the amazing people I am surrounded by and interact with online. I will not mention them but they know who they are. One person in particular started this operation and then handed it me. He was a great role model and a inspiration. In my spare time I come online and hunt pedophiles and predators with a group of amazing people. I started hunting predators because I personally believed enough was not being done to protect children online by law enforcement I still believe it. Government and law enforcement are to concerned with arresting whistle-blowers and hacktavists and seem to let everyone else off lightly.
(*Editor’s note: The amount of time varies by case, but a general estimation of the amount of prison time sentenced to computer hackers is 50 years. For someone who distributes child pornography the sentence is 20 years.)
Can you name any websites that parents need to be super cautious of their children visiting?
A popular website a lot of parents may be familiar with is Habbo Hotel, that you can also play on Facebook. It’s basically a haven for pedophiles. In the past we have experienced many pedophiles on here. Although no pictures or videos can be swapped they like to exchange email address’s which opens up a lot more possibilities for them. That’s how the predators target children. As with most sites that cannot display pictures, they aim of predators is to exchange email address’s. That way they can exchange pictures and potentially groom unsuspecting victims. This site is no different from any other role playing game. It was simply the amount of people engaging in this sort of activity on the site that drew our attention to it. In my opinion, sites do try and protect people’s information. As always there is always more that can be done though. Unfortunately as more security measures are introduced more loopholes are also. The most common method sites use is filtering and blocking email addresses. This is very basic and simple to get around as all predators know. Because of this I personally do not think it a deterrent to predators.
How do you take down websites?
With a variety of methods. There is the legal way, which involves collecting evidence and reporting it to the host and correct authorities. Then there is the means by which we are more commonly associated. The method commonly used is to DDoS (Distributed denial of service) a site. A good analogy of this is to think of a call center. Say it has 50 phones. What happens is 50 requests (phone calls) are made to each phone, making it unavailable to actual customers or people that want to get through. It is just flooding the site so others cannot access it. Also, if the site has a vulnerability you might see something else happening to it, such as a database leak, or a common deface, which looks like this: