Images of naked women from Brisbane and nearby areas shared online without owners’ consent

Images of more than 700 women from Brisbane and nearby areas, either scantily-clad or in the nude, have been shared online without owners’ consent by an individual who has been hosting the cache in a cloud storage service.

The hacker made multiple attempts to keep the data online and is threatening to defy the police take down request. The images were first published on Friday on a online forum. On Monday morning, the photos were taken down but reappeared by the end of the day. Police ordered a website to remove the photos of more than 700 women on Tuesday after the pictures re-emerged online.

For easy distribution, the cache was uploaded to a file sharing service whose name remains undisclosed. Brisbane Times reports that the business is based in New Zealand, which should make it easy to identify it.

The police intervened on Tuesday to take the photos down for the second time, but it seems like the individual is adamant on sharing them, promising that they would end up on websites on the Dark Web, a part of the Internet designed generally for anonymity, that is not indexed by search engines and it is not accessible via regular web browsers.

Although the Dark Web was created with honorable intentions (protecting privacy of the users like political activists or journalists), it also functions as an online dark alley where illegal businesses are also carried out.

The police say that very little can be done to slow down the distribution, but the hacker can be arrested. However the hacker seems to be enjoying the cat and mouse game with the Brisbane police department. “Come at me aussie police,” the hacker allegedly has been taunting, saying that the pics would be distributed in the anonymous network very soon.

The police are not investigating the case because at least one complaint from a victim is needed and none has been received until now.

However, the authorities said that law enforcement will not stand idle and will do what is legally possible to minimize harm on the victims. “The thing is, we don’t have a complaint and the focus has to be on harm minimization to try and get these things down so people’s lives aren’t ruined,” Fraud and Cyber Crime Group Detective Superintendent Brian Hay told Brisbane Times.

The trouble is that once the information are online, there is very little one can do to prevent it from being shared. Anyone who thinks their naked photos may have been posted online without their permission should contact the police via the Australian Cyber crime Online Reporting Network.

Stay alert, be safe and always keep your personal files away from the internet!

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