Paedophiles trading child sexual abuse images for Bitcoin
In its annual report for 2014, the Internet Watch Foundation or IWF announced that child abuse images were sold by Paedophiles for Bitcoin. This team has been assigned the task of addressing the issue of child sexual abuse images online. The group identified that the “most prolific commercial” child abuse sites had started accepting digital currency for selling images in 2014. During the period January through April 2014, the group identified around 37 websites for selling images for exchange of Bitcoins.
The 31,266 URLs found a 137 percent increase in 2014 in the uploading of pictures and videos of children being sexually abused as compared to 2013, although the IWF put that rise down to improved search methods.
The research team also stated that illegitimate material was being sold on legal website in folders. These said websites were already hacked and their URLs were spread through spam emails.
Digital currency, that is, bitcoin has numerous properties and this makes it ideal for trading child sex abuse images. Cryptocurrency has been fully distributed over a less concentrated area and therefore, no single authority can stop its business or banish sellers and buyers.
The problem on the whole is artificial as there is no link between a bitcoin wallet and the real world. It is very difficult to identify people conducting its online trades, if the currency is used with caution. Due to this fact, it is responsible for the first major real-world use of Bitcoin, the creation of the first online drugs bazaar, the Silk Road.
The currency is usually attributed to as “anonymous and untraceable”; however; the law enforcement agencies are using a number of elements that the design has to find out those who are illegally using the Bitcoin currency. Bitcoin’s decentralized nature indicates that every transaction is made officially and to convert it into a normal real-world currency, it must be bought and sold via a dedicated bitcoin exchange. Bitcoin exchanges are required to store detailed record of its customers by law so as to stay in agreement with the money cleansing regulations.
According to IWF, its team of researchers is working in tandem with many of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges to work out game plans and share knowledge for avoiding the use of this currency by distributors of child sexual abuse images.
IWF’s external relations director Emma Hardy stated:
“One area we look at in particular is the commerciality of child sexual abuse images and videos – people who want to buy and sell this type of content online.”
“We noticed for the first time ever last year that cryptocurrency or bitcoin was being used. We need to ensure we engage with those who run bitcoin services but also other ordinary payment mechanisms, financial providers, to ensure we can help prevent them being abused by criminals.”
An amazing increase of 137% percent in the number of web pages selling child sexual abuse images was noticed in comparison to the rate of the previous year, as disclosed in the IWF’s annual report.