In what comes as a surprise, thousands of British are continuing to access pedophilic websites through the Dark Web.
The sites are hosted by Freedom Hosting II, the successor of Freedom Hosting, which was hacked by Anonymous in February 2017.
Freedom Hosting was busted by the FBI in 2014 for hosting pornography, especially pedophilic websites. It hosted more than 20 websites that had published child pornography. The founder of Freedom Hosting Eric Eoin Marques is in Ireland and is currently fighting a legal battle to prevent his extradition to the US.
However, even the busting of Freedom Hosting did not deter the proliferators of child pornography as they launched Freedom Hosting II, which now hosts more than 20% of all the material on the Dark Web.
The Dark Web is much larger than the normal web and is not accessible through the normal browsers. It can only be accessed using the Tor browser; using a VPN helps the user to mask their identity and location. This in turn, makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace them.
But what has been the most shocking revelation about the recent hacking of Freedom Hosting II by Anonymous, is the profiles of the people who accessed the pedophilic material. One such profile was a NHS employee, while another is the ex-governor of a boarding school. One of the users is a convicted pedophile who earlier worked with a children’s hospital. In other words, these criminal-minded people worked, or still work, with children.
One website that was hacked had 80,000 users. After the recent hacking incident, the details of 50 UK-based users were given to the National Crime Agency.
Also, from the total number of users that have been identified after the hack, 6% (10,000 of them) are from the UK alone. When the hosting service was hacked, it was revealed that half of them had child abuse material. Currently, the security agencies are conducting an inquiry.
In 2016, the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation detected and helped remove 68,000 URLs from the hosting services after they were found in breach of the laws and indulging in child pornography.