In February, hacktivist group Anonymous took down Freedom Hosting II with approximately 20 percent of the dark web sites. There were plenty of child porn websites hosted, despite Freedom Hosting II’s “zero tolerance policy for child pornography”, of which the hacktivist group leaked the details of the users. Now, Swiss law enforcement authorities, after analyzing the data dump, taking action against a certain number of citizens, who are suspected of possessing and/or distributing child pornography.
Also for users “Lordy”, who looked at his computer somewhere in the west of Switzerland, such as “9-year-old girl masturbates” or “Hot 11-year-old Russian girl”, this procedure seemed to be going on until February 2017.
According to the Swiss news publication Sonntagszeitung, a Swiss suspect using the pseudo name “Lordy”, was also compromised by Anonymous. The media outlet stated, after a research on the suspect, the email address belongs to a family father in Western Switzerland. Sonntagszeitung also added that the alleged pedophile was active on different child porn forums, and used keywords to search for child abuse.
After Anonymous hacked the database of Freedom Hosting II, they had published a message on the breached site. According to the hacktivist group, the “zero tolerance policy for child pornography” was a lie, since their findings showed that more than half of the websites contained child porn. After the hack, Anonymous released the data dump of Freedom Hosting II, however, they removed all child pornography content, including explicit images and videos showing children and infants.
Sonntagszeitung analyzed the data and found out that over 130,000 users from all over the world were registered on the three largest pedophile forums hosted by Freedom Hosting II. Thanks to the data published by Anonymous, users’ activities can be tracked on a forum for the first time. Both private messages, as well as information on the preferred age of the minors depicted, can be seen.
The analysis had also shown that dozens of traces lead to Switzerland. In nine cases, the Swiss email addresses used for registration were linked to social media accounts, thus leading to names and addresses of persons residing in Switzerland.
Some of the child porn users from the data dump had only registered once and were no longer active. Others have, according to the newspaper, looked at long-term contributions of sexual acts with minors. Whether they actually registered to the site using their real data, or whether their addresses were abused by others, remains unclear.
The email address used by Lordy belongs, according to the Sonntagszeitung, to an elderly man and a family father from West Switzerland. The address was registered for almost one year at two different child porn forums.
The Federal Police Office (Fedpol) and the Cybercrime Department of the Zürich Cantonal Police are also analyzing the databases. According to Fedpol spokeswoman Cathy Maret, Swiss law enforcement authorities found “clear indications” that, in the dump leaked by the hacktivist group, there is child pornography content. However, Swiss Fedpol did not specify whether they have been able to identify Swiss citizens among the alleged child porn users. When asked, Maret did not comment on the research results of the Sonntagszeitung.
Even if it were possible to find Swiss pedophiles, who could face at least three years in prison for the use and possession of prohibited pornography, with the data leaked by the hacktivist group, there would be a serious problem: stolen data could not be recognized as evidence in court by the laws of Switzerland. Therefore, the research of the news publication, all the information gathered on the alleged child porn users, is not enough to start a criminal investigation against the suspects.
“It is only when the suspicion is confirmed that the police can initiate investigations,” a spokesman for the police said.
In addition, pedophiles are “mobile”. If an exchange platform for child pornography was revealed by the authorities or hacktivists, the users would flee to the next forum.