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Police target 'anonymous' paedophiles on 'hidden internet' - June-21-12
Source: The Telegraph (Christopher Williams)
Ceop, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said such sex offenders would be its "top priority" for the next year and that "many" paedophiles are now using hidden internet services.
"Some offenders have come to mistakenly believe that there are areas online, or tactics they can employ, that will cover their tracks from law enforcement," said Peter Davies, chief executive of Ceop.
"This is not the case. There is nowhere to hide.
"We will be specifically targeting these offenders over the coming months with the full range of policing resources."
The hidden internet is typically accessed using software such as Tor, originally developed by the United States government to make it more difficult to trace the source of traffic.
Tor bounces users' requests for data around a global network of computers at random, disguising their origin. It can be used by websites too, so that their true location is hidden from visitors.
"Websites facilitating money laundering, drug use, trafficking and other forms of criminality proliferate across such networks with a significant and growing use by those with a sexual interest in children," Ceop said in a recent report that revealed the hidden internet was increasingly viewed as a haven by paedophiles, out of sight of regular web users.
The hidden internet is believed to be the source of many new or "first generation" indecent images of children, which later emerge on the open internet and on filesharing networks. It is therefore thought to be an online home to some of the most dangerous paedophiles.
"Many indecent images and videos are seen for the first time on such sites, suggesting many of the users are involved in the production of the material and contact sexual abuse," Ceop said.
"In some cases children are being abused to order by members of forums, with the resulting imagery subsequently shared within the community."
It is understood that Ceop is currently preparing its first prosecutions of suspected paedophiles detected on the hidden internet.
The unit's new focus was announced alongside its annual report, which said it had arrested 192 suspects in the last year, not including more than 100 arrests last week in a major nationwide operation. Some 427 children were "safeguarded" as a result, Ceop said.
"We've identified the groups of offenders and sexual predators we believe pose the greatest risk to children and have prioritised these," said Mr Davies.
"The Centre's reach is greater than ever before through our network of partners and we are using increasing sophisticated methods to catch offenders."
Ceop is dues to be incorporated into the new National Crime Agency next year, a reorganisation that prompted Mr Davies' predecessor, Jim Gamble to resign.
The Home Secretary Theresa May said the unit would be "further enhanced" as part of the National Crime Agency by "sharing intelligence to expose the links between child exploitation and other forms of serious and organised crime".
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