Thursday 23 November 2017

Gardaí investigate global 'Playpen' child porn website

Playpen was a website on the Darknet, part of the internet where the users' identity and location are concealed through anonymisation techniques (stock photo)
Playpen was a website on the Darknet, part of the internet where the users' identity and location are concealed through anonymisation techniques (stock photo)

Ian Begley

Gardaí are investigating an international paedophile ring involved in one of the largest child pornography websites called 'Playpen'.

Earlier this week, the lead administrator of Playpen, which has more than 150,000 users around the world, was convicted to serve 30 years in prison in the United States.

The takedown of Playpen led to Operation Pacifier, which is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken in this field.

So far, in Europe alone, 368 suspected child sex abusers have been arrested or convicted.

Europol said that it informed police authorities in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Colombia. Gardaí have confirmed to the Irish Independent that a number of investigations are ongoing in relation to Operation Pacifier.

However, he would not comment any further on the matter for operational reasons.

Playpen was a website on the Darknet, part of the internet where the users' identity and location are concealed through anonymisation techniques.

The Playpen site was structured to allow its users to easily access a wide range of child exploitation and abuse material.

A few months after the website was created, in December 2014, the FBI seized a copy of the website and arrested Playpen's three administrators.

The lead administrator was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this week in North Carolina; the two others were each convicted to 20 years' imprisonment.

Encryption

Steven Wilson, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, said: "Those individuals involved in the sexual abuse of children are becoming increasingly forensically aware and are actively using the most advanced forms of anonymisation and encryption to avoid detection.

"Law enforcement needs to be able to use proportionate means to tackle this threat to our children," he said.

Europol said that because of the size of the data seized and its presence on the Darknet, Operation Pacifier was one of the largest and most challenging ever in the fight against online child sexual exploitation.

Irish Independent

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