Two years after Anonymous attacked child pornography site Lolita City, membership is up tenfold.
Note: Nothing here will link directly to child pornography but, if you jump down the wormhole and continue to explore, you will find it eventually. Be cognizant of that. This article and the links contained within are not an endorsement or criticism, it’s an acknowledgment of this reality: the CP community is thriving.
Nothing unites quite like common hatred. What’s more commonly hated than pedophilia?
In October 2011, the hacktivist collective Anonymous launched Operation DarkNet. #OpDarkNet was an attack on the growing child pornography community within Tor. The Hidden Wiki, which aims to be a launching point to all sites on Tor, was attacked and brought down for refusing to remove links to child pornography. Freedom Hosting, which is the preeminent hosting service on Tor, was attacked and brought down for refusing to cede its place as “host of the largest collection of child pornography on the internet” according to Anonymous.
The attack grabbed headlines the world over. Near the height of the media’s loud love/hate affair with Anonymous, the operation hit all the right notes: romantic freedom fighters turned vigilantes set their sights on the lowest of criminals in a high tech but clear cut battle of good versus evil. When is the Anonymous movie coming out anyway?
Boasting 100 GB worth of child pornography in 2011, Lolita City was credited as the main hive of villains in the story. The Hidden Wiki and Freedom Hosting received supporting credits and numerous name checks in big-time publications for their roles.
The story was a big public relations win for Anonymous, usually an extremely polarizing entity.
“It was the right thing to do. Period,” wrote Ars Technica commenter Reflex-croft. “Too bad they can’t focus all thier efforts on stuff like this, it would be nice to be able to rally behind them unequivicolly.”
“kudos!… this is where you should be doing!,” wrote astut945, “shutdown those child porn sites!”
Anywhere from a few minutes to a little over a day later, the attacks ceased and the war was over. All the sites were restored.
Today, Lolita City is back online after the brief 2011 outage. Now, it’s bigger than ever. Lolita City has 14,969 members and growing. That number is close to ten times what it was during Operation Darknet.
The 100GB figure was shocking in 2011. Today, the website hosts 1,349,075 pictures and more are uploaded every couple of minutes. In the last 15 minutes alone, six new pornographic pictures featuring underage models were posted and favorited by users. Three of those portray hardcore pornography featuring explicit sexual acts. Videos have been available on the site since November 2012.
Like adult pornography sites, Lolita City features and promotes specific models who fans can follow. Some of the photographers are professionals, others are hobbyists. The age of the hardcore and softcore models range from near-newborns and toddlers to, on the rarer side, 17-year-olds.
Anonymizing technology such as Tor is sufficient to ward off most would-be attackers. The child pornography fans are passionate and their community is thriving. Like the drug dealers, hackers and weapons dealers of Tor, law enforcement seems mostly ineffectual acting against the child pornography community.
In terms of actually damaging or stopping child pornography online, Operation Darknet accomplished nothing. In fact, #OpDarkNet may only have served as an extremely effective global advertisement of Lolita City’s services. Now, the City is booming.
In addition to an ever-growing catalog of illegal pornography, Lolita City is host to a large international community on their forums. English, Russian and Spanish speakers make up the majority of the population.
One recent thread is from an anonymous user who wishes he could take medication “to cure this condition. i would pay any price to take that medication. Anybody here share same feelings?” A few minutes later, the first reply called the poster a troll and begged him to leave the City and never come back.
A sampling of recent popular English-language threads:
- Points to make in debate when arguing pro adult/child sex
- Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America. By Philip Jenkins
- Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to People by Dr. Tana Dineen
- What Should the Age of Consent be? How about 7?
In response, several users said the age of 7 was too high, that all age of consent laws are wrong.
I am sexually attracted to children younger than 7 so I would still want to interact sexually with such, but 7 seems like a realistic age for consensual sex. Children aren’t stupid, so why do “govern”ments, legislators, and “laws” belittle them and call them stupid?!
In Lolita City’s forums as in most pedophile forums, many users view themselves as a persecuted minority under the boot of puritanical, anti-sex Americans whose attitudes have spread across the globe alongside McDonalds and Hollywood.
Another, more contentious thread wonders about cultural attitudes toward child pornography in Eastern Europe and Russia. Ukraine’s prodigious output of thousands of young female models led outsiders to wonder if attitudes toward pedophilia were more relaxed in Ukraine than in the West. Several Ukrainians insisted that most of their countrymen remained intolerant toward them.
Some of the biggest producers of child pornography are Eastern European websites and studios such as Newstar, LS Models, Siberian Mouse and Polar Lights. These studios have used thousands of underage models in their work.
“Could you please elaborate on how can you get 1500 girls, which is a population of a small town, to do something shocking to society for years?,” wondered another forum user. “Something like that could never happen where I come from. You’d quickly be persecuted and prosecuted or even shot. Isn’t the usual outlook towards sex and nudity generally relaxed in the former USSR due to anti-religion propaganda going on for decades?”
“Easily,” responded a Ukranian. “Girls in Ukraine start whoring at the age of 12-13 because they know that their only chance to get out of this poor putrid corrupt shithole is suck some rich cock. When they hear a mere whisper about a ‘foreign modeling agency’, they’ll gladly spread legs to get some quick coin. You say the perps ‘quickly be persecuted and prosecuted or even shot’. Nah. Not in Ukraine. Money talks here.”
“Lies, if that were correct there would not have been 1500 smiling happy, happy LS models between 2000 and 2004.”
Operation Darknet claimed to attack and temporarily disable 40 pedophilia websites linked to from The Hidden Wiki‘s Hard Candy section. Like much of what was attacked by Anonymous two years ago, Hard Candy has only grown. Today, The Hidden links to about 130 child pornography sites on Tor, i2p and the open internet.
Whereas The Hidden Wiki’s goal is to offer links to every .onion, a new enterprise, PedoWiki, is dedicated entirely to pedophilia. The wiki includes links to pornography, communities, a directory of child pornography stars, a history of child pornography, erotic literature, a guide to debate and a research tool.
PedoWiki is owned by Lux, the man behind the PedoEmpire brand. In addition to the wiki, Lux created and maintains:
- PedoChat, an anonymous chat service
- PedoDump, an image and video dump site
- PedoForum, a forum for discussion and sharing
- PedoLinks, a link index
- PedoTube, an invite only video streaming site
- PedoUpload, an encrypted image upload service
- Hurt 2 the Core, a forum dedicated to pornography of pedophilia, bestiality, animal cruelty and rape. H2TC is Lux’s most popular forum and the community in which he is most active at over eight posts per day.
In an alternate life, Lux might be a prolific tech entrepreneur. In four months, he’s built a suite of services attracting thousands of loyal and thankful users. Lux is not, however, a child pornography-version of Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts. So far, Lux refuses to charge Bitcoins for his services due to his distaste with exclusivity. Instead, he continues to build free tools with which the community grows.
Some of the most popular threads at H2TC:
- Producing kiddie porn for dummies (by Lux himself)
- Toddler childporn star
- Crying rape
- Need ideas for blackmailed girl. (15)
Lux’s empire is built on Freedom Hosting which, like the rest of what was attacked in 2011, has only grown. FH continues to play home to the most extensive collection of child pornography on the internet.
Freedom Hosting hosts a wide variety of illegal content and generally takes a hands-off approach — don’t expect top notch customer support 24/7. However, they’ll sometimes step in if the moment calls for it.
“In reality Freedom Hosting has full control over all the websites hosted on their servers,” wrote Lux on H2TC. “In fact, just a few days ago they patched a few of the core files running this very forum.”
As is the case with other illegal hidden services, Tor has served as a significant obstacle against law enforcement’s efforts against child pornography. “At least in one instance, an FBI inquiry into illegal child pornography (also known as child abuse imagery) on a Tor-protected site was apparently halted in its tracks due to the use of the anonymizing tool,” reported Cyrus Farivar in Ars Technica.
Until November 2012, popular pedophile community PedoBoard boasted 5,600 users and over 10,000 child porn images. The board was operated from Omaha, Nebraska. That month, the FBI seized the board and administered it for two weeks to track users, reports Omaha.com.
That [Tor] made it difficult for investigators to find the users, according to the FBI agent.
“Traditional IP identification techniques are not viable,” he wrote.
Federal investigators seized the computer server Nov. 15. They monitored the postings for two weeks, then closed down the site Dec. 2.
The search warrant does not say how many suspects were identified other than the Washington man.
Sandy Breault, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Nebraska and Iowa, declined to talk in detail about the investigation.
“This remains an ongoing investigation, and we are unable to discuss matters that are under seal. However, in this and every child exploitation investigation, the FBI’s mission is to protect child victims and use every lawful investigative tool available to identify predators who seek to exploit them. At the appropriate time, more details will become public, including those who have been charged in this ongoing matter,” Breault said in a statement.
And I think the fbi is more interested in profiling and getting the people who create “original”-content.
Some users give away too much, or are lured into private chats, and then giving too much away.
You always have to be careful and never feel too save with Tor.
One persistent question across the online pedophile community is just how many users actually hurt children.
When, for instance, a user brags in great detail about raping children, commenters often wonder if the author is fantasizing, mocking or a law enforcement agent trolling to discredit pedophiles or even catch one who would share too many personal details.
“I assume most are either just typing out fantasy or LEA/Anti trolls posting to give themselves bullshit to slander us with in the next pedo website bust,” wrote Lolita City user Athletic. “True rapists and sadists are here, but we must always be vigilant and differentiate ourselves from them. They are truly sick, they want to truly hurt children.”
Some users point to the children smiling and laughing in the pornography as proof that they’re enjoying modeling or having sex with adults and, therefore, should be allowed to do so.
Dr. Bill Glaser, a psychiatrist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of sex offenders, was recently interviewed at length at All Things Vice on this subject:
Firstly, it looks like the traditional stereotype of the internet child-porn user doesn’t hold up. E.g. some recent studies seem to show that many child porn users have reasonably OK relationships, are not desperate loners searching for approval/companionship and have reasonably effective non-sexual ways of dealing with “stress”.
Importantly, a substantial proportion of child-porn users (perhaps the majority) do NOT engage in contact sexual offending with children (although, of course, this finding should be interpreted with caution given the huge under-reporting of sexual assault of children)
Just as importantly, offenders who only use child porn without going on to assault children seem to have a higher level of deviant sexual fantasies and an increased tendency to hold distorted views of children as sexual beings, compared to those offenders who actually assault kids. This finding is, of course, counter-intuitive at one level but at another level it makes sense: most males (and I apologise for my gender here) experience all sorts of bizarre and horrifying sexual fantasies at some stage but the majority do not act on them. In other words there really does seem to be a “disconnect” between sexual thoughts and sexual behaviours with no good correlation linking the two.
American prosecutors often say that each time “an image of rape or molestation is shared, the child is abused again,” reports SFGate. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marci Ellsworth “opined that Pinson’s crimes were not, as the child pornography consumers sometimes argue, ‘victimless.’”
“Distributing of child pornography – images and videos of real children experiencing the worst moments of their young lives – is not a ‘victimless’ crime, and the heinous nature of this offense should never be diminished by referring to it as ‘just pictures,’” Ellsworth told the court. “The children portrayed … suffer real and permanent damage, for the rest of their lives, each and every time their exploitation is shared over the Internet.”
One of those children – a girl whose father shared images of her being abused that has since become widely shared online – put it more bluntly in a statement to the court filed last year.
“I wish I could feel completely safe, but as long as these images are out there, I never will,” she said in a victim impact statement.
“Every time they are downloaded, I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and my life feels less and less safe,” she continued. “I will never be able to have control over who sees me raped as a child. It’s all out there for the world to see and it can never be removed from the internet.”
In 2010, shortly after the launch of Lolita City and before the Anonymous attack, user favages8to40 claiming to be the creator and administrator hosted an AMA session on reddit. The AMA was heavily downvoted but garnered 89 comments and a few important conversations.
The most upvoted response was from FallingSnowAngel.
Hi. I’m one of those children who was used to give someone older than me an orgasm. I was given no choice. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t a dirty thrill.
All I received was a tiny seed, buried deep inside. At first I didn’t understand what it was…
Now I carry with me, a tree. It is a tree that is made out of fear, and it’s branches touch all that I see.
My life was destroyed, all for someone else’s orgasm. One day, if the tree keeps growing, it will tear me apart…
No matter what you tell yourself, no matter what you think makes it all okay…
I want you to know what you really are.
You destroy lives.