1 Hashtag, 2 Clicks… & You Are a Certified Pedophile

Photo by Charles on Unsplash

Is what was once immoral, now becoming moral? — Not too long ago, being a drug dealer, undercover agent, arms seller or pedophile, was a very difficult thing. And until around three years ago, if anyone wanted to be part of these “respectable”, groups, and have an online presence, either for business or pleasure, they had to know how to hide, and by hiding, I mean really hide.

Easy Access to the Darknet

Twenty years ago, those who belonged to one of these groups, had to know their way around dark alleys, guns, the underground, Gothic style music, and trench coats fashion trends. But then everyone’s world turned sideways, as the internet revolution changed humanity. — The dark alleys morphed into the pathways of the darknet — a part of the Internet below the private deep web that utilizes customized software and concealed networks embedded into the greater deep web’s architecture. This included all the un-indexed sites that did not appear on an Internet search.

The guns were turned into keyboards, and the trench coats into harmless looking avatars. Yet the one thing that remained the same, was the fact that these groups and individuals had to hide. They had to stay at large to be free to ploy their unrelenting sick sexual perversion in which countless innocent children are the sexual objects of thousands of twisted adult followers. Many also made money on this dark network of secret websites which operated on an encrypted network, and involved numerous fake accounts. — These perverts cleverly masked their traffic: they sometimes used someone else’s computer, or worked from an internet cafe, so the content never redirected to them. And very crucially, they successfully evaded the omnipresent “big brother” radar, and kept themselves free of any criminal investigation or charges. They remained at large, free to practise their evil deeds.

Tech Savvy Deviants

As active and surviving members of these sick groups, the individuals in question had to know their way around the darknet. They had to be clued up on various technological processes, and the ever updating systems and filters. They had to be familiar with how to use a “TOR” browser, proxy gateways, protocol changing mechanisms and anonymizers. Without a solid understanding of how the tech part of hiding worked, they would be dead in the water. After all, they were basically bait for federal agents posing as clients, and in some cases, even children. However, the deviants with technical know-how, a bit of business sense, and zero ethical boundaries, could get their hands on anything, be it arms, drugs, or vulnerable children who were (and are still) used for the never ending circle of sexual exploitation. Yet mega tech giants and others seemed powerless, and in some cases, unwilling to to enough to stop this 21st century horror.

Invites Only

The darknet has been the ultimate after-party for humanity’s outcasts and federal agents; and members of intelligence organizations who try to crash the party, have be easily spotted, and effectively kicked out by bouncers who bow to the same perverted behavior. The only gate crashers who were not easily recognized, were the ones who were willing to stretch the boundaries of morality and illegitimacy. As someone once said, “you gotta have skin to be in the game.” This basically means that if someone wanted to join a pedophile group, they had to contribute to prove their worth before they were accepted.

In layman’s terms, if they wanted a ticket to watch the game, they needed to upload a minimum of 50MB of original pictures and videos in which they made an appearance. That way, if they broke the group’s code, they could always be “outed.” As a result, this mandatory practise made it impossible for federal agents to join these groups. There’s not a judge in the world who would approve it. And so this is how the darknet has become the “Burning Man Festival” of perverted outlaws. It is almost impossible to identify them, catch them, and drag them into the open to face their the evil they have inflicted on vulnerable children.

Then something happened — the great boom…

I can’t put a finger on exactly how it happened technically, however, the long and short of it is that search engines finally started to index these “darknet only” materials. Arms & drug trafficking and, you guessed it, human trafficking, were all at users’ fingertips. — No special knowledge needed, just one hashtag and two clicks away from your children and mine.

In my worst nightmares, I could never have imagined that I would be able to punch a hashtag into a search engine, and watch a child being chainsawed, while an adult is pleasuring himself. New technological has made the 2000s a remarkable era, and cutting-edge tech innovations from education to health, and manufacturing to communications, is enhancing the lives of billions of people around the globe. So I can’t imagine that the sexual exploitation of innocent little souls, is what Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Bill Gates or anyone else, imagined their state-of-the-art technologies would be used for. So why are the tech powers that be, not doing enough? After all, they have countless billions of dollars at their disposal.

The tech titans could say that one dilemma is the fact that the internet facilitates the movement of children’s sexual images across international borders, and shots which were made in a particular country are regularly sent to other regions around the world. So to that end, global cooperation is needed to tackle international crimes. Yet, the access all begins and ends with technology. There are some great tech minds out there, and if Bill Gates et al., were to establish a permanent 24/7 dedicated team in Silicon Valley, or anywhere else, then it is quite feasible that they could come up with a tech solution.

What Has Been Done, is Not Good Enough

General Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney, stated: “Our efforts to improve public safety will make the fight against child exploitation and human trafficking a top priority.” And although agencies in the US and elsewhere, have made a small difference, as long as the internet is up and running as it is at the present time, exploited children’s images can be transmitted anywhere across the world. And that is why the solution must begin and end with tech geniuses, and be funded by Gates et al. Moreover, governments need to put pressure on the latter… Whatever it takes, far more must be done…

In summary, the reality is that we are a click away from pure evil. We are waiting for someone to make child sexual exploitation the priority it needs to be, and to do enough to eradicate it. We need everyone to make their voices heard, to put pressure on those who can make a difference. We are certainly playing out part… And will never give up until we reach our goal of putting an end to child sexual exploitation.

CTO & Founder @ L1ght