Earlier this year, DeepDotWeb reported that Anonymous hacked Freedom Hosting II, effectively bringing down almost 20% of all active darknet websites. According to the hacker, 50% of the websites hosted by Freedom Hosting II were child porn websites, even though the hosting provider claimed to have “a zero tolerance policy to child pornography.”
Among those websites was Paradise Village, a portal that had been up and running for nearly two years without authorities being able to shut it down, according to The Times. Paradise Village reportedly had over 80,000 registered users, 10,000 of which were from the UK, including an NHS employee, a sex offender, and a school governor.
Analysis of the hacked data has revealed that Paradise Village had a mostly male viewership, but that some women also visited the site. This type of data was taken from a forum that was accessible to users that did not use the Tor browser. A few identities, such as that of a user claiming to be a Czech university lecturer, who bragged about having sex with an 11-year-old girl, have not yet been confirmed.
An investigative report is said to be handing over the details of 50 British users to the National Crime Agency (NCA) – an FBI equivalent in the country. It is believed some of these are former Playpen members.
Playpen was another child porn website that got taken down by the FBI in late 2014. Nearly 900 pedophiles were arrested, and its admin, 58-year-old Seven W. Chase, was recently convicted to 30 years in jail. Following the arrest, FBI Special Agent Dan Alfin stated:
- As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that
Recently we’ve seen not only the FBI and Scotland Yard take down illegal deep web services, but also European and Chinese law enforcement agencies. Joining in on the fight, although often frowned upon by authorities, are ethical hackers who due to the nature of child porn websites go all-out to take them down.
155,000 child abusers were using websites hosted by FH2
According to The Times, the NCA did not comment on whether it was aware of the website hosting service Freedom Hosting II. The agency was also contacted by the Daily Mail and, at the time of press, has not yet commented the situation.
The Times’ report found that the earliest website hosted on Freedom Hosting II dated back to 2014, and that there were over 155,000 pedophiles using child porn websites that were hosted there. Thanks to the work of ethical hackers, they no longer have access to this type of content being hosted on FH2.
Most of them might, however, migrate to other websites that offer the same type of content, just like they did when Playpen was taken down by an operation led by the FBI and Europol.