back to article Anonymous shuts down hidden child abuse hub

Members of hacktivist collective Anonymous are claiming credit for shutting down a deep underground child abuse site and outing its membership list. Account details of 1,589 members of Lolita City were posted as part of Anonymous’ Operation Darknet, a wider effort aimed against abuse of the Tor network by paedophiles. Lolita …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's Hope...

    ...that the outed pedo userlist does not get comingled with the outed Reg reader list.

    1. alwarming
      Linux

      LOL! :) hopefully no overlaps!!

      OT: I am betting RMS is split brain on this one.

  2. SJRulez

    take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes

    lets face it the police and authorities are so inept at taking down sites, by the time they have been through all the legal wranglings the site operators are on to them and move house!

    1. austerusz
      Stop

      Right

      Not only that, but what's really hilarious is the idea that the police are the real IT takedown pro's while pitiful groups like Anonymous or LulzSec, etc, are amateurs.

      Maybe the competent police would like to join a hacker convention one day and show off a bit. That would do wonders for press as well as for people's confidence in the police IT force.

      1. CyberCod

        Even more to the point, what would eventually happen is an "official" attack on the entire darknet system in the NAME of ousting pedophiles would serve to suppress free speech. It would just be sold to the public as going after pedos.

        I applaud this move by anonymous. The darknets SHOULD be self-regulated. Its none of big brother's business.

  3. Yag
    Trollface

    Pedobear would not approve of his /b/rethrens...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hope anonymous don't mix up the filenames with el reg's data leak :-)

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I think another point which this article fails to mention is that under UK law intentionally looking for kiddy pron even to report it to the authorities is in inself an offense and if one of Anonymous PCs were to be taken away by the fuzz investigating hacking found kiddy pron on there then they will be in a hole lot more shit than just for doing some DDOS or sql injection attacks

    1. boabyphet
      Trollface

      intelligent hackers

      in reply to your statement about getting themselfs into trouble by looking for child porn.

      in this instance, the anon hackers used alot of intelligence and methods to not get themselfs into trouble, one of these included the use of a bespoke web crawler which they had programed to crawl the target pages on the darknet and return ONLY text back. . . very intelligent as its no crime to view text :D

      I applaud them for their work here, the statement from "experts" saying it might harm police investigations makes me laugh as clearly the police investigations are complete bunk compared to what anon are doing ... i say this as these places have been about for years (as far as i have read) and have never been closed, now in a weekend anon took out 40+ sites AND made public the name of the hosting company who allow this to happen!

      anon have showed that most law enforcement which looks for peados or crime of this nature is verging on impotent!

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        "very intelligent as its no crime to view text"

        Yes it is.

        written material depicting the sexual abuse of children is illegal in many, many countries. Not to mention that if some of the text included the description of the intention to commit child abuse, not reporting it immediately to the authorities would make them accomplices (or whatever the legal term is).

        Images or not images, if they are found in possession of this material they are indeed in the brown'n smelly. Better scrub that hard drive real good kids!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sophos dislikes bypassing Sophos

    Film at 11.

  7. Mondo the Magnificent
    Thumb Up

    Good news

    Anonymous never fail to astound me in regards to some of their "antics"

    No one, especially governments and their respective agencies are immune to attack by this collective of nerds. Often the reasons for their "antics" were questionable, but reading this story today certainly puts a smile on my face.

    Many of the pay to perv porno sites act as covers for the child porn sites and after the famed FBI hacks on pay to view child abuse sites in 2001/2002 (which lead to the launch of Operation Ore and formation of the UK High Tech Crime Units) may of these filthmongers went underground

    Now that Anonymous has got their claws into these sickos rest assured, they will soon run out of hiding places and this is most certainly good news indeed

    Anonymous certainly has my vote of confidence and utmost support in this campaign!

    Keep up the good work guys!

    Oh, and thank you...

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Important point missed though

      I too think that getting rid of such servers is no bad thing. But the article goes on to say:

      "or making it difficult to argue that evidence has not been corrupted by hackers."

      There's a very real danger that none of the users of the servers that Anonymous compromised can be successfully prosecuted now (depending on jurisdiction I suppose). This would mean that they'd be free to disappear into the background and carry on their disgusting practices, only more carefully than before. How's that going to help children?

      It is supremely arrogant of Anonymous to think that they're the only people who can do this, the only ones who can "save the world", whereas they are probably making things worse in the long run. If they want to make things better they should get proper jobs, perhaps in law enforcement.

      1. L1feless

        Really?

        @Bazza

        you really want to take your response down that road...

        1st the prosecutor will merely need to get a technical forensics team in and have the servers analyzed to prove that no data was actually modified.

        2nd Just because this TOR hosting service has been compromised doesn't mean that there aren't others. Let's get real many of these TOR services have been around for AGES! If the war on child porn was really that high of a priority then we would have seen more action against these types of sites.

        The fact of the matter is if the authorities are not able to build a strong enough case against a hosted site or their users they are bound by the laws and red tape of their profession. That is where a random collective like Anon is different they are not bound by those same limitations but do run the risk of prosecution if caught.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Operation Ore

      And the cops (everywhere) did such a good job on that one.

      1. laird cummings
        Mushroom

        @ Tom 35

        And exactly how many paedos has Anonymous put in jail..? Right, then - Clearly they're the better choice. Not.

        The proper action would have been to Anonymously* send the particulars to a laundry list of enforcment bodies, along with a threat that if action were not forthcoming, the list would then be sent to the press.

        *Heh.

        1. veti Silver badge
          FAIL

          "The proper action would have been to Anonymously* send the particulars to a laundry list of enforcment bodies, along with a threat that if action were not forthcoming, the list would then be sent to the press."

          And how exactly would that help? Evidence that's been passed through Anonymous would still be open to the defence that it may have been contaminated.

          Even if, rather than the list itself, they'd just sent instructions on how to get at it - the defence could still claim that since "those lawless hackers" clearly could access it, there's no way to show that they didn't, for instance, insert names and details of people they wanted to take down.

          No, any halfway competent defence lawyer would shoot this out of court in jig time. Naming and shaming is the best result that could be achieved with this "evidence".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            As long as the authorities have a reasonable belief that this sort of thing has happened--as would be the case if it got to a court--then they can start subpoenaing I.P. logs and such from much more reliable sources than the infringing server itself. Confiscating the members' computers would also be productive.

          2. CyberCod

            Naming, shaming, and bludgeoning with a baseball bat... more like.

            1. Scorchio!!

              "Naming, shaming, and bludgeoning with a baseball bat... more like."

              Yes, there have been instances where this has happened, and there have been instances where innocent people have been murdered or maimed. That is why appropriate use of the criminal justice system is truly the only way forward. They may convict innocent people, sure, but the maximum they can do does not entail loss of life or limb. There are no levels of undo once the physical is dished out by people who 'think' they know that someone is guilty.

              The case of Stefan Kiszko ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Lesley_Molseed ) illustrates the problem. Worse still, the poor man died after his conviction was overturned (prison is not conducive to fitness and longevity) and his mother not long after gave up the ghost. It is one of the saddest cases. The case was bungled by the police from start to finish and I wonder if it was partly deliberate. Certainly failure to comply with current guidelines did not help, and his brief compounded their error by also bungling it. As to whether or not he did it, he could not have; the biological evidence is irrefutable. If I said the coppers involved deserve smacking by baseball bat I'd be guilty of making the mistake contained in your post, and it is very definitely a mistake. No civilian should ever be judge, jury and executioner, and people who think they are ought to be prosecuted if they act on such a belief.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re:

                "They may convict innocent people, sure, but the maximum they can do does not entail loss of life or limb"

                Actually wrong in the case of Operation Ore, and a number of lesser known cases, as there has been a substantial number of suicides amongst wrongly accused people.

                As for those wrongly *convicted*, I don't think I would want to be in prison with a paedo tag hung around my neck (and other people do know why you're doing time).

                At least in the case of vigilantism, there is at least chance of effective legal recourse against the perpetrators, unlike when you're being shafted by the establishment.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ Tom 35

          " how many paedos has Anonymous put in jail..? "

          How many innocent has Operation Ore put in jail? How many lives needlessly ruined? How many suicides?

      2. bazza Silver badge

        No, the police didn't do a good job there at all. But only the legal system can put these people behind bars. And putting them behind bars is necessary. Publishing a list of usernames may embarrass those that stupidly used their real names, but it won't send them to jail.

        The police certainly need technical improvement. Sitting on the outside moaning (and in the case of Anonymous making their job harder) won't help any children at all.

      3. Scorchio!!

        Re: Operation Ore

        "And the cops (everywhere) did such a good job on that one."

        It's difficult to tell if there is irony behind these words. However, it is the case that one or two instances of false allegations arose out of Op Ore. I'm on the road at the moment, but I have the data. Some people have commented on plod's inefficiencies (I can agree) and have applauded 'vigilante' attacks. This is so difficult. Once upon a time (20 years or so back) we were self policed, and Plod had even less of a clue, but the relative cluelessness of plod does not justify tampering. What to do is a difficult question.

  8. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Anyone who contributes to removing child porn from the Internet is doing good work regardless of what they do the rest of the time.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      That's not what's happened

      What we have here is a collection of people who claim to support free speech imposing thier own views and effectively acting as a censor. In other words, hypocrites.

      I couldn't agree more with this kind of content being removed. I can't support the idea that it's the job of hackers to police this though, this is the first step down a bad, bad road. Anarchy.

      1. Alfred

        Free speech and evidence of sexual abuse are not actually the same thing

        Need I say more.

        Question mark deliberately excluded.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's not what's happened →

        Why haven't the police done anything before this happened? I thank Anonymous for what they did.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 1929

          The Police don't tent to advertise covert operations to close down Internet sites, particularly when pretty much by definition this sort of work involves many agencies worldwide.

          Also - publishing names of people registered with such sites, or credit cards used, doesn't have good precedents as Operation Ore proved.

          1. Jacqui

            @AC 22:11

            Credit card brute force test purchases are now so common that non tech folks I know are asking me to explain what emails from businesses and the banks mean.

            Its used to be that a faked card would be first tested at unmanned petrol station then a small test net purchase made, then used for nefarious purposes. This means when you get a complaint about your card being used for a small (seemingly random) purchase, start thinking about cancelling/transferring your card ASAP!

            Operation Ore assumed[*] that the owner of each credit card was involved in each transaction - this was shown to be false but (for UK police) prosecutions means promotion, so they went ahead and publicised (via leaks to NOTW etc) upcoming cases. When everything collapsed the officers in charge still ended up with a promotion and pay raise.

            Anyone who believes that the police are not corrupted by the "rules of promotion" needs to think again. The police have one objective - prosecutions - they do not have to be right or just - they only need a reasonable chance of proceeding.

            [*] Assumption starts with ASS.

            What really irritates is those cases where the Met knew the card had not been used by the owner (in one case, evidence that card user lived in russia) but withheld this information from the prosecution to "improve" the case against known innocents.

          2. Andy Fletcher

            @Alfred

            You missed my point by so wide a margin far I have no adjective to describe it.

            1. Scorchio!!
              Thumb Up

              Re: @AC 22:11

              "What really irritates is those cases where the Met knew the card had not been used by the owner (in one case, evidence that card user lived in russia) but withheld this information from the prosecution to "improve" the case against known innocents."

              This is what I was earlier alluding to in another post. I would have thought that most posters in Reg fora would have the wisdom to know that there is always the risk of ID theft, and you're right; "when you assume you make an ass out of u and me"! (Not you, of course.)

      3. Edwin

        I agree completely. Great it's gone, too bad they didn't follow due process. Whether or not law enforcement is inept at these things, the fact remains that they are 'law enforcement'. Anonymous is not 'law enforcement' - Anonymous is 'vigilantism'.

        The cynic in me also wonders if this is Anonymous trying to generate some positive press...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > The service is also used to exchange pirated content

    Pfft. Why would you ever do that? There are for easier and quicker ways to access that sort of data. Plus you're much less likley to end up with god knows what on your computer as well.

  10. Locky Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm Greg Evigan

    When Amateurs Attack, a new series for Lee and Herring?

    1. Neil Porter
      Thumb Up

      Are the peadophiles the criminals here...

      ...or is it the business man in his suit and tie?

      Yeah, it's the paedophiles.

      Well done anonymous.

  11. sisk Silver badge

    I've always had a certain amount of respect for Anonymous, but it's always been tempered by distaste for their methods. So as you can imagine, this will be the first time I've ever said this:

    Well done Anonymous. Well done indeed. The quicker that kind of filth vanishes from the net the better.

  12. Christoph Silver badge

    It works the first time

    The people running these sites will now be taking countermeasures, such as the obvious one of seeding a lot of false names into their database (i.e. real names, probably of prominent people, that have nothing to do with the site). Operation Ore shows how appallingly much trouble that is going to cause to innocent people the next time this happens.

    1. Cucumber C Face
      FAIL

      re: It works the first time

      >these sites will now be taking countermeasures, such as the obvious one of seeding a lot of false names into their database (i.e. real names, probably of prominent people, that have nothing to do with the site).<

      1. How does anyone know that seeding wasn't already done?

      2. That genuine users all registered authentic details?

      3. Like the "War on Drugs" this targets end losers not producers. If they're just as culpable it follows that over a billion people lynched Colonel Gadaffi by looking at pictures.

      1. CyberCod

        You sound like you have a guilty conscience. Are you afraid your name is on the list?

        1. byrresheim
          Facepalm

          Yeah sure, he's afraid for himself.

          And there never have been incidents of abuse and hysteria.

          You do remember the strange case of the scholl janitor who put eye candy on a colleagues computer, don't you?

          It seems that the mere mention oft the word "pedophilia" these days leads to instant logic breakdown in a lot of brains. Which is not a bug, it's a feature, and quite useful at that, ask Jaqui Smith.

          Are you certain of what files are on your HDD right now? Really certain?

          Can you prove you never subscribed to that horrible service? Can you?

  13. Antoine Dubuc
    Pint

    Plea to Anonymous

    Greetings,

    Thank you for doing work like this. I hope you go after them. All of them. All the time. Go nuts. I have two kids, and these bastards are the stuff of nightmares for any parents.

    HOWEVER, please consider this: Next time, if you can, try to actually record over a month or two users activity, especially their I.P. address. Do the legwork for the authorities.

    We will hence all have the added bonus of having these bastards in jail hopefully!

    Cheers, and thank you again for your work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err actually...

      Next time, just tell the police, if they don't do anything tell people that you've told the police. Don't go after people - what if they're using an assumed name? Don't monitor the servers and log IP addresses because you might end up giving these scumbags a plausible argument that the log data have been tampered with.

      Leave it to the professionals, if they don't do anything shout that they're not.

      1. Antoine Dubuc
        Thumb Up

        True enough.

      2. Peter Mc Aulay

        Your point is valid only you seriously believe the plod know about Tor, darknets or indeed much about IT in general. Historically there is little evidence to support this hypothesis.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No IP

      The web-sites in question are on the TOR network - there are no IP addresses to log.

      1. Decius
        Facepalm

        They own the network...

        How many entrance nodes to TOR are run by members of anonymous?

        It wouldn't surprise me if at least some TOR onions are entirely inside the control of one or more people who would cooperate to track down rapists.

        If hackers can get a virus into a nuclear fuel enrichment control computer, then they can certainly get one into the system of someone who downloads files from anonymous people. (Pun intended)

  14. David 66
    Thumb Up

    Anonyomous redeemed

  15. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    I am in 2011 and what is this?

    > Tor activist Jacob Applebaum welcomed Anonymous' action: "Anonymous pwned a bunch of pedos; huzzah," he said via his ioerror Twitter account.

    Outing himself as a man-child.

    I a not-faraway future he might well be shut down himself by The Man, if not by The Drone.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me get this straight...

    ...they brought "Freedom Hosting" offline by DDOS-ing it through the Tor network?

    Taking down illegal sites is one thing, but Tor is slow as it is. You can't disable a hidden service without overloading some of the infrastructure as well, so I'd say the legitimate Tor users are less than happy about this. :/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not quite

      From the article I gather they matched the TOR hidden service with a sevice on a publicly accessible hosting site, and DDOSed it via it's public (non-onion) interface/route - or at least that is what I think happened.

      I don't think they DDOSed over TOR - prepared to be corrected though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        no correction..

        just thumbs down....how weird

  17. Stretch
    WTF?

    "take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes"

    I must have missed Sophos becoming the world's official government. How else can any "internet security" company be described but as vigilantes?

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      FAIL

      As security guards?

      Your bank pays for security vans and guards to move money around, are they vigilantes? You buy a lock for your front door, is the hardware shop a vigilante? Security companies try to protect their clients and know when to call the Police. Internet security companies do the same.

      Full disclosure: my company sells Sophos products.

  18. Chad H.

    Finally...

    Finally Anonymous scores 1 for the good guys.

    1. Chad H.
      Thumb Down

      wow

      since 4 people (at this posting) disagree with this without comment I can only assume the worst about them...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pedo catching - been there

    Changed a bit from using FF.EXE to look for incriminating text.

    They got prosecuted, but not jailed - unfortunately.

    Anon - for obvious reasons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And which pedos got caught exactly ? seem they were all warned that they could be exposed in there current environment and now have a chance to find a safer one for there sharing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Caught pedo

        The one we were asked to check over by a friend of my bosses.

        Not saying anymore reprisals not wanted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Downvoted because I helped get a pedo prosecuted?

          I reckon we must have a pedo on this forum.

          Can elreg check and send to the Police?

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. A J Stiles
    Stop

    Missing The Point 101

    For one thing, this shows that even tor is not "safe" against a really determined foe.

    For another thing, what do you think some of these people are going to do, now they can no longer get their jollies with a few pictures and a box of Kleenex?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. MJI Silver badge

      What can they do?

      Provide a soft landing for a heavy metal bar.

      1. Andy Fletcher

        I'm horrified

        That an AC drops an accusation like that and Reg publishses it.

        Don't people know they are personnally responsible for what they post? The really dumb thing is, this is an article pointing out (correctly) that if you think you're anonymous, what you are in fact is naive.

    3. Mad Dave

      Tor is not the issue

      Isn't this merely a bruteforce mysql attack or similar?

      I'm not quite sure how the compromising of a service would render a protocol used to connect to that service as being 'unsafe'?

  21. Alan Esworthy
    Big Brother

    examine your assumptions

    From the article:

    "Their intentions may have been good, but take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes," writes Graham Cluley of Sophos.

    "When 'amateurs' attack there is always the risk that they are compromising an existing investigation, preventing the police from gathering the necessary evidence they require for a successful prosecution, or making it difficult to argue that evidence has not been corrupted by hackers."

    My comment:

    Mr. Cluly (interesting name, that) makes a common mistake in assuming that "the authorities" are more honest and more competent than "internet vigilantes." The sad truth is that the authorities are not a different breed of humans; they have the same fortes and foibles as we mere mundanes do, but when they screw up they have the power of govt at their disposal and very limited liability for the damage they may do. We mundanes, on the other hand, have no such virtually unlimited power and are completely vulnerable for undeserved damage to others.

    I'll take the vigilantes over the authorities whenever possible, thank you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Until you happen to be a pediatrition in Portsmouth who got hounded out by vigilantes who though he was a paedophile.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/aug/30/childprotection.society

      Then there is also the risk that some of the names and details of the Lolita City subscribers leaked by Anon could have been polluted either by Freedom Hosting, or conceivably, by Anon themselves to get at personas they don't like - publicly saying that John Smith is a paedophile is enough to get him lynched these days.

      I'll take the law and its evidential procedures over self appointed vigilantes with no publicly accountable procedures for when things go bad, thank you.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Paediatrician

        Yes. The sad part of it was the children present on the picket line, chanting 'pefiles out, pefiles out'.

        Here's another for you; a 'paedophile' (actually it was an ehebophile [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia ], the girl was 15) and the girl with whom he had sexual relations were both killed. Vigilantes in the area (Newcastle, ISTR) torched his house, she was in it. There is NEVER any justification for vigilantism, and there is certainly never a justification for judicial murder, whether administered by vigilantes or the state. Capital punishment cannot be undone if an individual is innocent, and I again cite the case of Stefan Kiszko ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Lesley_Molseed http://www.innocent.org.uk/cases/stefankiszko/index.html ), and countless other cases where capital sentencing would have been enacted for, e.g., murder of one adult by another.

        I am appalled but unsurprised by some of the responses here, which appear to be of an unreflective, issue driven nature. I have worked in forensic psychiatry, I have found paedophiles to be manipulative, wily and unpleasant. Indeed, one of them set up an attack on me, but I can never condone vigilantism on them, as much as my blood boiled when I was attacked. Yes I did want to hit him, hard.

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      @ Alan Esworthy

      Actually, I suspect that, if asked, M. Cluly might point out that at least in the case of the legally-constituted authorities there are SOME forms of checks and balances in place if they get out of hand and/or attack the wrong person. These checks are not perfect, but at least they DO exist in some form.

      Should Anonymous get anything wrong, the unjustly targeted really HAVE no recourses. After all, if the Scientology cultists with all of their resources haven't been able to shut them down, what chance does the average person have?

      Your next-to-last paragraph could, with minor changes, be applied to Anonymous as well:

      "The sad truth is that [Anonymous] are not a different breed of humans; they have the same fortes and foibles as we mere mundanes do, but when they screw up they have the power of [anonymity and lack of accountability] at their disposal and [no] liability for the damage they may do. We mundanes, on the other hand, have no such virtually unlimited power and are completely vulnerable [to] undeserved damage [by] others."

      Just to be totally clear: I am not excusing either child-pornographers nor Government. Throwing support behind a secretive group that eschews accountability simply because it is not "The Man", however, strikes me as being precisely as foolish as trusting "The Man" unreservedly.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any kiddie can DDoS

    I would have been more impressed if they had removed all that crap instead of (temporarily!) taking down a website. I mean; all they got was information from a MySQL database, which they /think/ to be linked to said kiddie pr0n, but they're not sure.

    Good idea to toss this into the open; for all we know they revealed some undercover cops which were trying hard to get these motherf*ckers. This could also jeopardize their trial I think ("they have been put publicly on trial, thus humiliated, they suffered enough. blah blah blah").

    And all the contents, which personally bothers me a WHOLE lot more, still remains ?

    Sorry for not being very impressed here.

  23. John Stirling
    Stop

    To A J Stiles, getting the point

    'what do you think some of these people are going to do, now they can no longer get their jollies with a few pictures and a box of Kleenex?'

    Hmm, Mr Stiles; the report mentions 100GB of images. Not illustrations. 100GB of images of children. Whilst it is theoretically possible these are all harmless holiday snaps of children in swimming costumes on a beach with their families - it is more likely (based on the average prosecution) that some at least involve rape and sexual murder of children, real and genuine physical violence of the worst kind against some of the most defenceless members of our society.

    So I am afraid I do not accept your 'aggregation' argument - presumably that if one child is raped and murdered 50 pedos can get off, and therefore 49 children are 'saved' - there is a recognised problem of dehumanisation, and whilst in many areas I am an utter libertarian (my limits are pretty much that if you are a competent adult, and consensual then anything goes); using children to sate a paedophile, who will in any event likely escalate his needs next time is never acceptable, not to mention ineffective.

    If, as previously mentioned in these comments these pedo sites seed their data with false positives then there will be problems with public disclosure (proving you 'didn't do it' to a raging mob would present a significant challenge); but taking these arseholes down by any means and providing the data to law enforcement so they can get the individuals is a worthy use of anonymous members' excessive spare time.

    Disclosure; I have two small children, and may not be the coldly logical thinker on this issue that I like to think of myself as.

    1. alwarming
      Thumb Up

      I have no kids+not married+atheist+sexually&politically liberal. (And I don't know how the end game of hacker's action will look like in terms of catching & sentencing).

      But I hear you. Well, said John - from where I stand there is no place for Paedos in this society... it's a choice & an acquired taste, they are not "wired" as some paedo apologists (closeted paedos?) seem to claim.

    2. Steven Roper
      Mushroom

      "taking these arseholes down by any means"

      So the end justifies the means where protecting children is concerned, eh, Mr. Stirling? Legal process be damned? Doesn't matter if innocent people's lives are ruined so long as they get the filthy bastards? Oh, won't somebody PLEEEEEZE think of the children? Fuck you. Hopefully you'll get your own chance, as you so richly deserve, to be falsely accused and meet the "challenge" of "proving you 'didn't do it' to a raging mob" - a raging mob, Mr. Stirling, of pitchfork-wielding dicks like yourself.

      And yes, I'd stand toe-to-toe and say that to your face if we met.

      1. Saigua
        Thumb Up

        Pitchfork dual-wielding dicks like...hey, different fetish there. I hope.

        When I say that, the whole ice cream shop full of puppies and their adoptive (often single) families cracks up in gales of laughter. It feels odd, though...as if the rainbow-infused space is missing an eighth color.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I can barely believe that I am posting in support of Mr Stirling here, but I think it is only fair to point out that - far from advocating the public disclosure of user lists, or condoning "raging mobs" - he mentioned such as a negative, presumably to be avoided: his point was that the takedown of the sites was a worthy goal and that data should be passed to police. Perhaps he will correct me if I misunderstood?

        For my own part, I do not feel sufficiently well-informed to be able to reach the same conclusion as Mr Stirling: I simply don't know whether his point of view on "aggregation" stands up to rigorous examination.

        My own hunch is that one cannot look (as he does) to "the average prosecution" to draw conclusions about the content of any particular site: it is not clear that we (the public) know what an "average prosecution" is (we only really know the prosecutions reported by the media, which I imagine are biased towards the most dramatic cases); nor do we know what sort of law enforcement action may have been taken in respect of such site, so we cannot ascertain whether it would have been "average" at all. I therefore find it hard to reach the same conclusion "that some at least involve rape and sexual murder of children": it may well be the case, but I simply don't feel sufficiently well-informed to make such statements.

        Continuing with the "recognised problem of dehumanisation" (which I can very easily believe exists, but I am interested to know whether academic studies reach the same conclusion?), Mr Stirling asserts that a pædophile sated by porn "will in any event likely escalate his needs next time". I really can't help questioning this logic: it is the same as that behind the British "extreme porn" law, in assuming that enjoying SM pornography will "escalate one's needs" and turn law-abiding citizens into rapists. Or that (up until it became illegal in 2003) the common practice of British tabloids displaying full page, colour photographs of topless 16 year old girls encouraged every red-blooded reader to hang out around the closest school to pick up the same. Of course this is nonsense.

    3. Saigua
      Coat

      Well you didn't have to conclude with a preposition, but...that's not disclosure.

      It's one 100GB image with a 100-child human centipede mosaic made out of pseudocolor ultrasounds, but it's horrible. They're wearing mosaic fancy dress hats. No doubt escalating desire anon. Breeders.

      Anonymous seems to have hit an important enablement mechanism soundly, if not the symptoms.

      Begging likeliness is poor sport! Deputise a peer of the defendant, authenticate a case of do-not-want childhood imagery, and call it at 5 counts. Means are important and people are still taught of the Spanish Inquisition, Rush Limbaugh and Non-Free EMEA or BRIC. Well, reportage is seeded yet, and defence, violence and revenge are all things we should adore, landed suitably. Take that, projections of oppression into whelps as soft-peddled in the first quarter of Pan's Labyrinth and later in the knife scenes!

    4. Old Handle
      Facepalm

      Sexual Murder now?

      <-- My face hurts from overusing this icon.

      That would be ANYTHING but average. That would be a snuff film, something widely regarded as an urban legend. I am aware of exactly one semi-reliable report (in the Guardian) of a child porn ring that supposedly dealt in snuff films, and even then it wasn't even totally clear if they really had them or were just trying to con gullible customers. The report seemed heavily based on rumors, and didn't identify a single person who actually saw such a video. It however contain a quote where police acknowledge this is not something they have seen before. So if they're real at all, they're exceptionally rare, not "average".

      I'm not, of course, trying to claim child porn is all fluffy and nice, but let's try to keep discussion firmly grounded in reality. Most people, believe it or not, don't particularly enjoy watching murder.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the BBC...

    >The attacks could have put an existing investigation at risk,

    But, that would mean the authorities would actually have to do some work!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as someone who works in a related field to the relevant authorities, I can see both sides of this. Saying that it is illegal for anyone to purposefully access this material, even if it is with the intention of curbing its use, is correct. In a strict sense, if someone stumbles upon this, they should report it immediately.

    On the other hand, I can understand their choice in pursuing this course of action, as the legal process for locking up these scum is laborious and time-consuming. /b/tards should consider, when they embark on this kind of scheme, what their primary goal is (and also the fact that they are becoming just as culpable in the eyes of the law): if it is to harry and disrupt paedophiles and their activities, they have undertaken an effective method. The downside to this is that the criminals will simply set up shop elsewhere, in even greater concealment. I don't seriously entertain the notion that they will ever succeed in cleansing the internet altogether.

    On the other hand, if they wish to see the criminals punished, the only real hope of this is to go via the authorities. Publishing the member database may assist in identifying criminals so that other work can put them behind bars, but had it been left alone it could have been valuable evidence in its own right. I doubt that it could ever be used in court now.

    1. jonfr
      WTF?

      Reporting it can land you in jail

      The sad reality is that reporting child porn can land one in jail. It has happened and can happen again. If one wants to report this to the cops, he better do it anonymously. So one does not land in jail.

      I am sure that the authorities did not have a clue about what was going on there.

      Here is a tinyurl on the news reports on those matters from three years ago, http://tinyurl.com/cuzklh

      Here is the obligatory youtube link, http://youtu.be/i8z7NC5sgik

    2. Saigua
      FAIL

      Eyes of the Law thus filled of caeca, we stick chewed-up hope on the scale!

      Internet =cleansed=; everyone refine online Feng Shui and buy Trevor Brown mousepads again.

      Only two sides? As if Wiley Interscience sends brochures for their awesome new Effective Paedophilia Extinction Sublimation in Grayed Networks and Languages Series, and court holding's cafeteria makes the books sing? Maybe some SAGE and Pogue Press volumes on Patterns of 'Victimless' Crime Profit Centers are ready? Do Not Want In Argument for Junior Prosecutors?

      Neverminding the PX-90 for abstraction in IT and risk, sensibilities (and underwriting) demand trying humans when at court; that's about five rounds of mediation and input sanitization before and after officials and custody should be hazarded. Architective is not what I should want in a detective, and yet surely this is the hand work involved and portending to say, favor Alice before the Red Queen (here I am thinking of the court, not extra-flagrante delicto.) There's room for a whole other Tor to keep us from having to roleplay erm, Umbrella Corporation, recreate emotionally moving first-person bad childhood experiences, mechanically pile-drive human potential into its most rotten caissons in process, and burr Alice's hide.

      Report what? What chain of evidence are the authorities going to establish in a habeas corpus's beard's worth of vm and squid training at a host; a subpoena of the admin at the end of the purple fiber ribbon? Perhaps one (with a JD and provenance) rolls roboperps and rolling source mitigations (crowdsourcing unsuitable sea cucumber children pictures and their archive passwords never requiring a vuln to exist per se?)

      >elsewhere, in even greater concealment

      ...just need to exclude the children, mostly. From then on gardening with GURPS (2.6) is all theirs.

      1. TwistUrCapBack
        WTF?

        oh my god

        wtf are you on about ???

        BORE OFF..

        while im commenting on that crap above ill give a little "woot" to anon for inconveniencing some kiddy fiddlers.

        If I had my way i would personally chemically "inconvenience" them all

        Good job - may be a bit risky posting members details for all the reasons in above posts, but keep shutting the fcukers down .. :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "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."

    That's not even remotely OK. No matter how objectionable, wrong or evil the content is, harassing people who merely link to it just plain censorship.

    Going after the actual host is somewhat justifiable at least, in that they were apparently breaking the law, and the authorities would have done basically the same thing, just in a different (possibly even more disruptive) way.

    As far as the hacked account details, I doubt they include anything useful anyway. It was a hidden service after all, meaning it could only be accessed through Tor, so obviously it's not going to have IP addresses. There's no information on whether this was a pay site--I doubt it--but even if it was they would not have been so suicidally stupid as to use credit cards and keep names on file or anything like that.

    Although it's possible, just maybe, that someone would be dumb enough to use the same name and password as on facebook or someat like that. And if so they're in for a world of hurt.

    1. Decius

      What about other people who link?

      Clearly you support The Pirate Bay, since they only provide links to people. And the contact points of mob gangsters- they just pass information and money from one person to another, they don't commit crimes themselves. Even the Kommandants of concentration camps were /only/ interpreting orders and passing them along to other people.

      At some point, aiding an immoral act by providing information becomes an immoral act. As to if vigilantism is justified, that is a question that you have to ask yourself, and anonymous had to ask itself. The (il)legality of the actions here is actually pretty clear on every side.

      If they were a pay-for-content system, then they need to keep CC details associated with a user, to prevent chargeback abuse (If you don't keep CC numbers, you can't ID repeat chargebacks). In that case, identifying the people who can withdraw money from the merchant account associated with the site would be the top priority. After that would come the trawl for anyone who had made a purchase from that merchant account.

      And with a username and logon times, the TOR entrance nodes could check their logs for IP addresses which started sessions at the right time, and result in a list of likely IP addresses. I doubt that TOR entrance node admins will ever send their logs or the private key to their logs to anyone else, so the information needs to be distributed to them somehow. Making it public seems to be the best way...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Got it: linking=genocide. Godwin's Law proved again.

        Incidentally, Tor nodes do not, a general rule, keep logs, it would be rather counterproductive. The hacked database does not contain anything like detailed access logs either. It looks like this:

        Ped0B3ar 3,4 - 6,18+ 6 - 10,18+ 0 0 0 1mo, 2w

        It's not clear what all that means, but it obviously doesn't contain anything identifiable, or in fact a password, so even my previous suggestion that someone might be dumb enough to use the same name and password elsewhere apparently won't pan out.

  27. mrweekender
    Go

    Top shot Anon..

    ..but why has Graham Cluley of Sophos stuck his oar in? I for one am sick to death of these self appointed, so called f*cking experts.

    1. multipharious

      look for a security article without Graham

      The news sources are getting used to getting the Press Release from Sophos. He is quoted even in the USA. He also does a pretty good job.

      As to the takedown, it looks like Anonymous has taken their challenge from some folks in the Security community (at BlackHat) fairly seriously. I hope Anonymous is able to centralize their ethos structure and avoid a destabilizing power hijack from within or hostile takeover now that their popularity and visibility is growing. Being in the news catapults them into the spotlight, and the more that join the more dangerous a takeover becomes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ping: Graham Cluley

      There is a great deal of merit in occasionally pulling one's head out of one's arse!

      You should try it sometime!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Censorship of the internet goes against the ethos of what anonymous us to be about.

  29. Jason 24
    Go

    Sounds like a good thing

    Some of you may remember my post;

    Posted Friday 25th February 2011 13:15 GMT

    Jason 24

    I'm very worried → #

    When I was raided under accusations of child porn being in my house.

    Well I got my kit back on the 14th of October, 12 days shy of 10 months without my kit because they had no hard evidence of anything being done, just a tip off from someone, so it couldn't be treat as a priority and was dumped at the bottom of the queue.

    I'm all for catching the real pedos and by the sound of it anonymous have done a much more efficient job at finding and proving all of this than the police, can we hire these guys to do further investigations and save people such as myself from being raided and having this shit on their minds for 10 months.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What prof did anno supply ???

  30. Franklin
    FAIL

    A title is not required

    I realize that believing in government malice and incompetence is as trendy as the iPhone 4S these days, but the fact is, Anonymous may have just handed all the paedos a "get out of jail free" card.

    I see a lot of commentards talking about how incompetent the government is, and how completely ineffective they are, but I really think that's more rooted in fashionable groupthink than in reality. In reality, it's been my experience that (at least here in the US) the FBI responds very quickly to reports of child abuse.

    About four years ago, I found a child abuse Web site when I got a bounce email in my inbox. The email had forged my address as the From: address, though the originating IP was in Eastern Europe. It was addressed to an invalid .ru address and contaned child abuse images and a link to a Web site.

    I called the FBI field office in my state--easily found on a simple search address--and turned it over to them. They reported back that they had subpoenas and preserve-evidence orders less than 24 hours later. And best of all, they hadn't handed the defense team a quick and easy out by violating the chain of custody on the images.

    I'm not sure why the notion that law enforcement is so ineffective is so trendy among compute nerds. I suspect that everyone who holds that view in this thread has never actually dealt with them in matters concerning child abuse, and holds that view simply because it's fashionable to do so. In my experience, when it comes to kiddie porn Web sites, law enforcement tends to move with alacrity.

    I wonder what the comments will look like when El Reg runs an article about six months from now headlined "Paedophile Charges Dropped In Anonymous Hactivism Case".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Easy they will blame the police for being incompetent.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      Well, that might be how it works with the FBI (with quite a large remit and bank balance) but here in good old Blighty we have two red-eyed chaps on psych-alert doing it all for the whole country.

  31. Watashi

    Nobody panics when things go "according to plan."

    Unfortunately, all the undercover police are currently busy keeping tabs on the various anti-capitalist protests going on around the world. I'm afraid protecting our millionaires and billionaires is far more important than keeping our children safe.

  32. T J
    FAIL

    Yes I have a Problem with this

    Thought about it at length and decided YES, I have a PROBLEM with them doing this.

    While its something obvious, corporate, stupid and the law is an ass, yes HACK, that is the holy role of the Hacker, to mete out justice (and have a huuuge wank) where it otherwise cannot occur.

    But once you get into moral arguments, and where the law DOES apply....ooooh man you are in a messy place. What's next guys? You're going to take on the Russian Mafia? Good luck with that, the Colombian cartels already track down and kill bloggers that displease them.

    And in the end - you'd just get co-opted, in other words they are compromising their own integrity by doing this. And in an ad-hoc environment, Integrity or the appearance of Integrity - is all you've got!!

  33. Pete 8

    Well done Anon

    from article:

    "The Tor network is widely used by human rights activists and often used as a means to get around government-applied censorship controls, such as the Great Firewall of China. The service is also used to exchange pirated content or by paedophiles."

    Weren't the State Dept cables lifted by wikileaks from tor?

    http://spyblog.org.uk/mt436/mt-search.cgi?search=tor+network&IncludeBlogs=14

  34. ps2os2
    Alien

    Shutting down child porn sites

    This is one of those stories about whether the glass is half full or half empty and both sides have their points. Maybe the best option would have to sent the information gathered to INTERPOL and let them sort out where to bust the ring. Perhaps a country whose laws could accommodate the irregularities of the evidence, I don't know.

    Maybe it would be called shopping of place to file criminal charges so that the most "damage" could be done. I do not know I am not a lawyer but I believe there are countries that do not put well lets say to fine a point of how evidence is gotten.

    1. Semaj
      Big Brother

      This is exactly what I was thinking.

      Of course it is certainly possible they already did this and were ignored or told "tor, onions, wtf? You guys are just winding us up". Whenever police talk about this stuff they always come across as incredibly technically inept and don't seem to realise that not everything is a "website" so I really wouldn't be surprised.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Database != proof

    As has been said, there is a problem with the chain of custody over the database, but conversely there is no proof that being on the database means your guilty, as has also been mentioned. It isn't a smoking gun in someone's hand, it's just a printout of people's names.

    The database is just an indicator. Investigate those mentioned and look for better evidence. That should be true regardless of how the database was obtained.

    1. Semaj

      Yeah, that should go with any alleged crime really.

      In this case though I'm guessing they'll just bypass all the "red tape" and do a data transfer onto the sex offenders register ;)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Their intentions may have been good, but take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes," writes Graham Cluley of Sophos.

    2 words: BIG SOCIETY

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A very short-sighted move

    It's not just about shutting down the sites, it's about rescuing the abused children and taking the abusers out of society and behind bars.

    All anon did was temporarily inconvenience the users of this site, publicly announce the hack, and tip off the users so they can all now go and destroy any evidence that would have connected them to it.

    The last big sting took 3 years of investigation, involved the authorities of 30 countries and most importantly rescued 230 children from further abuse.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12762333

    That's 3 years without tipping off the users or owners of the site in order to get enough evidence to make convictions stick...

    Normally I don't mind Anon's actions and rarely anyone gets hurt but they really fucked up this time.

    As the proverb goes.. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

  38. Sam Therapy
    Thumb Up

    Not a perfect solution but

    Better than doing bugger all, which is what the "experts" have been doing. I don't believe the line that the PTB were working on this quietly, either. Chances are, they didn't even know about it.

    Anyhow, who is to say this is the end of it, or even the end product? For all anyone knows, Anon may well have worked out a way to take down these sites *and* leave the data and details intact in such a way that successful prosecutions result.

    In any case, the fewer child porn outlets, the better, IMO.

  39. Winkypop Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The human mind has so many facets, not all of them good

    At one end of the spectrum it can be creative, thoughtful and nurturing.

    At the other end, not so much.

    Anything that exposes these creeps is OK with me.

    But an action that lands a successful prosecution is much preferred.

  40. John Edwards

    When I googled for an obscure but entirely innocent technical product about half the hits seemed to relate to paedophilia. The local police gave me the URL of the body who investigate such instances and I emailed the details to them. Job done.

  41. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    'take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes," writes Graham Cluley of Sophos.'

    Yeah SHOULD BE being the operative word, as this shows quite often it DOESN'T. With the amount of red tape and politics and bollox the site would likely remain active for MONTHS longer.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The people collecting and viewing the material obviously felt safe that their knowledge of tech. could protect them from discovery and police action. If the actions of Anonymous remove that feeling of safety, in collecting and distributing child porn, in even the most anonymous and hidden parts of the internet, it might do more to stop it than a handful of arrests. I'd rather people didn't get involved in child porn for fear of getting found out, than them get involved, get caught and imprisoned.

  43. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    'take-downs of illegal websites and sharing networks should be done by the authorities, not internet vigilantes"

    Was there an on going investigation into this site? No, well then a very big hat tip to Anonymous. Glad someone is ACTUALLY thinking about the children

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