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    German Police Bust Darknet Child Porn Ring With 90,000 Users

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    German investigators have seized a server used to host a child porn platform for almost 90,000 users on the dark web.

    German police have shut down a child porn platform operating on the "dark web" that had more than 87,000 members.

    The platform was called "Elysium" and enabled users to arrange and exchange videos and photographs of child sexual abuse.

    The administrator of Elysium, a 39-year-old man from the Limburg-Weilburg district of Hesse in Western Germany, was arrested on June 12 and charged with the distribution of child pornography and the serious sexual abuse of children. Police searched his apartment and confiscated the server used to host the platform, state prosecutors in Frankfurt-am-Main said.

    The platform had been operating on the dark web since the end of 2016, and enabled the exchange of child pornography from around the world, including images of very serious sexual abuse and violence against children.

    The investigation into Elysium is being conducted by the Central Agency for Fighting Internet Crime (ZIT), which was set up in 2010 to fight internet crime nationwide. Investigators have already identified several more suspects, who are believed to have used or helped administer the platform. 

    The dark web is an anonymous part of the internet which can't be accessed using a typical search engine. A special web browser such as Tor disguises the identity of web users by routing traffic through a complex network of servers.

    A recent project to map the dark web found 7,178 sites there, most of which (87 percent) don't link to any other sites. The authors of the study, published on Arxiv.org, say that the term "dark web" is a misnomer, and it is "more accurate to view the darkweb as a set of largely isolated dark silos."

    Law enforcement has discovered several child pornography rings operating on the dark web in recent years. In 2015, the most notorious child pornography site operating there, Playpen, was shut down by the FBI. Before the site was taken down, it hosted 215,000 user accounts and distributed 50,000 images and videos of child pornography. After a two-year investigation, 900 members of the ring in Europe and the Americas were arrested.

    Last year, Norway launched a crackdown against child pornography online, dubbed Operation Dark Room. In May, it was reported that the police have discovered at least 300 cases of child sexual abuse, including several cases in which Norwegians paid between $20 and $50 to watch the abuse of children in the Philippines.

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    Tags:
    Arrest, child sexual abuse, sexual abuse, Child Pornography, internet, dark web, Darknet, Hesse, Germany
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