back to article Euro police smash online paedophile ring

A huge paedophile network behind a Netherlands-based online forum called has been smashed and 184 suspects have been arrested, following a worldwide police operation. More than 4,000 intelligence reports were issued to police authorities in over 30 countries in Europe and elsewhere, said Europol. So far 230 …


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  1. DeepThought

    So what actually happenned?

    "So far 230 children have been "safeguarded"

    If you ever want to become a journalist you need to stop cutting and pasting , and start digging out some information.

    If 230 children were taken out of the clutches of abusers then that's brilliant news. As it is we don't know what's happened, if anything.

    1. Old Handle

      Just guessing here...

      But I assume it means 230 children were taken out of the "clutches" of their parents. Whether those parents turn out to be abusive remains to be seen.

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Avoided drawing the attention?

    "The website initially avoided drawing the attention of police authorities because it operated as a legal "discussion-only" forum where people could talk about their sexual interest in young boys without committing any offences."

    Sounds like a honeypot to me. Still, one thing's for sure. This internet thingy is great for flushing out paedophiles. Before the web all this abuse was underground. Now it's all co-ordinated through a medium perfectly adapted to keeping evidence for long periods and permitting automated searches. The police have never had it so easy.

    I bet some politician goes and spoils it though. They always do. The irony will be that they'll be trying to do the complete opposite.

  3. JakeyC

    Won't somebody think of the terrorists?

    So, "it operated as a legal 'discussion-only' forum where people could talk about their sexual interest in young boys without committing any offences"

    Hmm, I'm pretty sure the same wouldn't be tolerated of a "legal 'discussion-only' forum where people could talk about their interest in planning terrorism without committing any offences"!

    1. we are all ignorant

      Or if...

      ...your website linked to streaming movies and tv shows. The authorities clearly have their priorities.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Clearly the creators...

    ... of the site must be terminally stupid. Calling it is hardly going to work if you're looking to hide in plain sight.

    Serves them right if they got caught!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good news

    On the face of it this is great news.

    A couple of things though. Out of 70000 people on the site they have caught only 670. That sounds bad, unless not all of those 70000 people were criminal. In which case is it not pure sensationalism to give the impression you they had discovered 70000 paedos? As long as they got the ones committing actual abuse then it would be a result.

    '230 children have been "safeguarded" ' What does this actually mean. Is it that you have arrested people who had access to 230 children due to their work as teachers etc or that you have discovered and saved from further abuse that many children?

    But the best thing I heard about this story was on the BBC when the former head of the met's paedo unit said straight faced that most of the people involved in this case will not have harmed children themselves, but will have been looking at pictures of abuse. Which is just as bad as carrying out the actual abuse. I kid you not....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      70,000 is a huge lie

      Speaking as an administrator of a small forum (just a little fandom thing) I know for a fact that the number of members a forum has is absolutely unrelated to the number of people using it. My own little forum currently has somewhere in the region of 600 members. It has approximately fifteen people actually using it. The rest are either drive-by registrations or spam bots.

      That 70,000 is what is known as a trojan number, a big thing they slip in to make everything seem impressive but actually a fabrication. It's often a technique used in statistical metastudies that "prove" such nonsense as coffee is good for you and bad for you at the same time.

      Chances are, of those 70,000 members, maybe a thousand at most are actual people. Of those, how many are engaging in now very broadly defined criminal activity? And of those, how many are actual abusers? Suddenly it doesn't look very impressive and may even be resulting in miscarriages of justice on a grand scale.

  6. Bear Features

    euro what?

    do we have to crow-bar the word euro into every opportunity possible? Police authorities have always worked together internationally, there's nothing 'euro' about it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Something doesn't quite add up. So there were 50,000 members (seriously?) and 670 suspects. That would mean just over 1% of members are suspected of criminal activity. So... is it really fair to blame the website if a small fraction of their users communicated by other means to break the law?

    To make a needlessly inflammatory analogy, suppose there's a mosque attended by 300 people. Four of them meet at one of their homes after prayers and make plans for a suicide bombing. Does this make the mosque the center of a terrorist cell? Should it be shut down?

    Anyway, I hope most of those suspects are actually guilty and this doesn't turn into another Operation Ore.

  8. asmblur


    What scares me is that if there are 50kP(the infamous kilopaedo) or more going to this single site, how many more are there out there who are either smart enough not to go to such an obvious place or simply go to another site? I guess I just find this number shocking and alarming. I'm glad they caught 260 of them so far but to me the 50kP number really makes this seem rather insignificant...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Just swallow...

      ...that story and its numbers whole. Yep, every single member of the website was an active and offending pedophile.....sure. What a rube. I have a bridge for a great price, and what a span. Buy now!

  9. NemoWho

    Is it safe to assume

    that Julian Assange has naturally been brought in as part of this haul?

    < mine's the one with candy in the front pocket >

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: Is it safe to assume

      "that Julian Assange has naturally been brought in as part of this haul?"

      Well this does highlight something I've been saying for a while; there is no way to hide an offence committed online, and that includes 'anonymous'. Everything is in principle detectable.

      "< mine's the one with candy in the front pocket >"

      Ugh. That's an image I could do without.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    70 000 members vs 184 arrests... Don't forget, a goodly amount of those will be politicians and / or super rich citizens. They, of course, will be safe from arrest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Red witch says WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      "You put WHAT on my expenses claim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

      "Calm down Dear ( sick ) you were not re-elected , remember?"

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    184 suspects arrested

    At what point did the authorities think that a 'discussion' website about boy love was not going to attract peados who wanted to share kiddy pron outside the site? I suspect that they won't catch anymore than the 184 suspects they already have from the supposed 70000 members, many of which as others point out could be spam registrations or just drive by registrations that were never active on the site.

    There may well have been more than 184 peados on the site but the others may have accessed the site from behind TOR or some other proxy/vpn and signed up with a fake email address or one time use hotmail.gmal, yahoo email account. And now that the press have reported that the site has been shut down any members who haven't already been arrested are probably smashing their hard drive with a hammer and dropping it in a bucket of salty water. They people they have probably caught are just less technically savvy and stupid peados.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: less technically savvy and stupid peados

      Is there anything to suggest that the typical paedo is smart and tech savvy, or is he just as likely as the average man on the street to be of moderate IQ and a bit clueless about IT security?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Oh no

      Are we creating a breed of super paedophiles with IT expertise. From now on suspect all system administrates and hell desk monkeys.

      I shall be cancelling my Reg Subscription just in case.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    184 out of 70.000?

    Judging from the laws in effect around Europe this is a very low number. Why? Because in many countries pedophilia is a thought-crime so the very act of visiting this forum makes you a criminal simply due to the things you were thinking or writing about.

    Yes, in countries where possession of fictional text or artwork relating to pedophilia is illegal, it can be said to be a thought-crime as no abuse or anything involving children is happening in any way, shape or form. And yet it is still illegal. Well, you may think about having sex with a child but if you write it down or draw a picture you're a criminal.

  13. Corbis

    Miscarraige of truth...

    Caught this story on the 'news' and was listening to some do-gooders ranting away... Anyway, thought occurs to me that distasteful as the abuse of children is; its not actually illegal to 'be' a paedophile. What the "boys (they seem to getting younger every year) in blue" actually managed to slap in irons were likely those suspected of sharing kiddy porn or maybe citing actual incidents of abuse. The rest are probably entirely innocent, at least in the context of using the website - or at least I hope so because we're discussing the same subject here!

    Can't wait to see what The Sun makes of the story in the morning.... you know, the same newspaper that was once quite happy to publish topless images of 16 year old girls posing provocatively on Page Three for its red-neck... ermm sorry, readers, enjoyment.

    As for the "safeguarded" kids? Anyone care to guess what happened to them after being ripped from their parents?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Miscarraige of truth...

      Although the "won't someone think of the children" brigade are slagged off a bit on this site, there's nothing like a good paedophile story to flag up the hypocrites.

      There's a whole load of very distasteful sexual perversions out there. Sensible people are aware when their fantasies cross the line and keep an eye on themselves. If they can get their kicks through elaborate rape fantasy play or violent bdsm games then they get ignored as long as it stays below a certain level of public recognition.

      This is why an easy-to-find forum or even organisation (eg: NAMBLA) can exist until somebody breaks the law at which point, as is common with minorities, the whole lot get hit.

      And don't get me started on the Sun and Star. Topless images of 16 year olds are pretty pathetic but the whole "countdown to legal" thing makes me want to commit a crime myself. Can you imagine if they did that for a gay male starlet?

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  15. Anonymous Coward


    "Its analysts cracked security features of a key computer server said to be at the centre of the network. The police hack uncovered the identity and activity of the suspected child sex offenders."

    So the police committed a crime to uncover another crime?

    As much as paedo's are bad and should be hung in the centre of town for people to throw rotten tomatoes at, this website was a discussion forum. What people do outside of it is up to them and they risk the consequences.

  16. Wibble257


    I would hardly call this smashing a ring. Yes they removed a medium for sharing child porn but it is not difficult to use another. In fact the article states that all the illegal stuff was going on outside of the forum anyway.

    Even if all 70k user were full blown child molesters and regularly committing illegal acts this is a small number for a world wide problem. I am not belittling paedophilia as it is a discussing act, however it does not appear to be as big a problem (in terms of numbers) as often implied. News articles like this are exactly why Brass Eye made their spoof documentary and got into all that trouble.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Believe none of what you hear...

    Thank goodness for the Reg. How refreshing to read some of these comments.

    I was a member of for many years. I can confirm that it was a very public website, operating so as to give those who had difficulty coping with their sexuality an outlet and was for that purpose *deliberately* exposed. I would probably be dead right now were it not for the companionship I found there. The website in no way, shape or form condoned child abuse, regardless of the perhaps inevitable actions of a few members. In fact, many members actively encouraged others to stay legal. I have seen articles portraying the strict rules as a "cover" for illegal activity. Er, not really. It was so that members who wanted to remain legal could use the site safely.

    Of course, I don't think anybody fully realised that there truly is no such thing as a "legal" image of a child in the UK. (As it is entirely up to the jury to decide the meaning of "indecent"). Images below level 1, btw, can still be illegal. They are counted as level 1 for sentencing purposes. Cue the excuse to go down the list of IPs, arresting "on suspicion of making (i.e. downloading) indecent images". That is how they are justifying arrests, and, I am sure, how they have made a number of convictions.

    As far as I am aware, several convictions in this operation have been severe miscarriages of justice. One conviction I know of was for a sub-level 1 image, found as a deleted temporary internet file. It could not be proven that the defendant ever intended to download the image, or even ever known it had been downloaded, but the jury could convict on the basis of recklessness.

    I must acknowledge that of course there is an inherent problem with paedophilia as an insatiable sexual orientation. (At least, morally, and certainly when they like 'em REALLY young, which a small proportion do). And if we as a society demand certain behaviours of paedophiles, we should at least treat them in a way that helps them achieve it. Somehow I don't think this "stfu or gtfo" attitude is really achieving that. If anything, the opposite. I fully support for the ability of paedophiles to feel safe in making their sexual orientation public, which, IMHO, would solve many problems.

    I literally cannot believe the blatent disregard for the plight of people trying to do their best in a difficult world has been so utterly ignored by the likes of CEOP. It is one thing to enforce law. It is another thing entirely to stamp faces into the gutter, then call on the rest of the public to come and join in. Dear god, for the sake of many of those caught up in this, do not take what you read at face value. Especially if it is the article by the Sun, which truly did have me scratching my head in disbelief. ("boil of the day"? what on earth?)

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