In a desperate attempt to expose the Internet users who use the dark web – websites that are mostly accessible via services like Tor and I2P which help users protect their anonymity by concealing their IP addresses – UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a special unit headed by the National Crime Agency and Government Communications Headquarters at the #WeProtect Children Online Summit in London. The main objective of this special unit is to target online users who view child abuse images and exploit children.
The special unit is expected to help in the prosecution of those perverts who send or receive sexually explicit comments or images from children online. Cameron’s proposed new law would make it “illegal for an adult to send a sexual communication to a child”. It will also be made illegal to possess material offering guidance on abusing children – the so-called ‘paedophile training manuals’. The unit will receive £10 million in 2015 to create specialist teams to find sexually explicit content on the web.
David Cameron said, “The so-called ‘dark net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear, we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners: if you are thinking of offending there will be nowhere for you to hide”.
He added, “Every time someone chooses to view an online image or a video of a child being abused, they are choosing to participate in a horrific crime. Every single view represents that victim being abused again. They may as well be in the room with them.
“I approach this issue as a Prime Minister, a politician, but also as a dad. I want to build a better future for our children. The package I am announcing today is a watershed moment in reducing the volume of child abuse images online. It marks significant progress in delivering a truly world-leading response to a global problem”.
“GCHQ is using its world-leading capabilities to help the NCA reach into the dark web and bring to justice those who misuse it to harm children. With the NCA, we are committed to eliminating digital hiding places for child abusers,” said Robert Hannigan, GCHQ Director.
The UK government has created its own database of 2.6 million known child abuse images to assist police across the country. More than 30 countries have committed to set up their own national databases of child abuse material. A first of its kind £50m Child Protection Fund, supported by UNICEF, is set up to support prevention and help victims.
The dark web, which accounts for 90 percent of Internet traffic, is an ungoverned part of the deep web. Governments worldwide find it difficult to control the dark web because such websites hide behind publicly available websites and cannot be found with normal search engines. Cameron, therefore, unveiled new technical solutions that the online industry will use to support the newly formed special unit.
Images identified by the Internet Watch Foundation will be given a digital fingerprint, called a hash value. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Yahoo! will use the digital fingerprints or hash values of thousands of known child sex abuse images to prevent them from being viewed or shared and also remove them if they find them on their sites. In 2014, the Internet Watch Foundation, removed child sexual abuse images from 27,850 websites – a 109% increase on the previous year.
In addition, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla will also directly block people from accessing websites which are hosting child pornography using their browsers.
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