Investigators have struck a blow at three Internet forums with hundreds of thousands of users on the dark web depicting child sexual abuse. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime in Hesse (ZIT) at the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office.
According to a report from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the platforms "BoyVids 6.0", "Forbidden Love" and "Child Porn Market" with a total of more than one million registered users are currently the largest providers of images of sexualized violence against girls and boys on the dark web. West German Broadcasting (WDR) and North German Broadcasting (NDR) had previously reported on this.
Those responsible are caught
According to investigators, the 21-year-old main administrator of the platforms from Saxony, a 44-year-old from Lower Saxony and a 45-year-old from Schleswig-Holstein were arrested in Germany in November and December. Another suspect was arrested in Brazil.
The partner agencies in Brazil, Australia and the American FBI were also involved in the attack on the depictions of abuse. The platforms have not been available since the beginning of December.
After such platforms had already been successfully taken offline in 2017 and 2021, these three have now been shut down. Photographs and videos depicting sexualized violence against girls and boys were transported on them. According to the BKA, the high number of registered users is to be seen against the background that the three forums were internationally oriented and accesses came from all over the world.
However, they were mainly controlled from Germany. The 21-year-old alleged main administrator is said to have participated in such platforms before and to have been involved in the exchange of child pornographic material.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is investigating on behalf of the Attorney General in Frankfurt. "There is a strong suspicion that the suspects are spreading child pornography by gangs," a statement said. The investigations into other previously unknown operators and users of the platforms are ongoing.
The German Children's Aid called for the investigators to be given all possible instruments quickly. "Once again: our investigators need real legal and material support from our politicians," said honorary chairman Rainer Becker. Once again, the arrest of suspected German child porn providers is based on information from abroad, because investigators have opportunities there that do not exist in Germany for data protection reasons.
In this country, for example, there are still arguments about the possibility of being allowed to save IP addresses. At the last conference of interior ministers, the federal and state governments demanded that the scope for data storage permitted by the European Court of Justice should be used.
Internet users can browse the so-called dark web almost completely anonymously. There are always criminal activities such as child pornography, arms or drug trafficking.