Hackers Deserve Praise for Busting Child Porn Sites & Leaking Pedophiles' Names
I've been a comic book fan for years, and the idea of a superhero vigilante—an imposing justice-delivering figure like Batman or The Punisher—has always been appealing to me. Real-life superhero vigilantes, however, usually aren't quite as intriguing. Yeah, I'm talking to you, pepper-spray-wielding Phoenix Jones.
The hacker group Anonymous likes to refer to themselves as "Internet vigilantes," but they've always kind of struck me as being a bunch of obnoxious kids, hiding behind their computers in order to crash Sony's websites and steal all sorts of private data. Not exactly on the same badass level as The Watchmen, you know?
However, Anonymous has stepped up their game lately. Last week, the cyber activists took on a child pornography ring—and busted it wide open. I don't know about you, but I think this might just be cape-worthy.
Anonymous set their targets on a server called Freedom Hosting, which housed about 40 child porn sites. The largest site was Lolita City, which contained more than 100GB of what was surely some reprehensible content. The group first told Freedom Hosting to remove the content, and when Freedom didn't comply, Anonymous attacked, crashing all of the porn sites for several minutes.
While a Freedom Hosting admin scrambled to restore the content, Anonymous went ahead and published the names of 1,589 individuals who visited Lolita City. They then wrote in a statement,
If the FBI, Interpol, or other law enforcement agency should happen to come across this list, please use it to investigate and bring justice to the people listed here.
Um, that is AWESOME. Look, I know I shouldn't be supporting extralegal activities, but I am totally in favor of Anonymous using their hacking powers against kiddie porn sites. Even though at least one security expert has gone on the record saying that Anonymous's attacks could potentially screw up an existing investigation, I'm a fan of someone taking action against the sites sooner rather than later.
This particular Anonymous operation was carried out by sub-group Operation Darknet (#OpDarknet), which focuses on child porn groups that use the Tor network, which is a service that lets anyone host websites and browse the web anonymously. #OpDarknet calls Freedom Hosting "enemy number one," and said,
The owners and operators at Freedom Hosting are openly supporting child pornography and enabling pedophiles to view innocent children, fueling their issues and putting children at risk of abduction, molestation, rape, and death. (...) We will continue to not only crash Freedom Hosting's server, but any other server we find to contain, promote, or support child pornography.
Not sure these people really deserved to be publicly outed? Gawker has a couple of unbelievably disturbing screenshots from Lolita City, where Lolita users are seen discussing the image of a young girl. (Warning: this is some really nasty stuff.)
I say good for Anonymous, and I hope the disgusting filth who uses those sites are all rounded up and thrown in jail, where in a real vigilante twist, they're forced to share a cell with one of the fathers of the girls whose photos they so enjoyed.
What's your take on the latest from Anonymous? Do you support what they're doing, or should they leave this kind of thing to the police?
Image via Flickr/liryon
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