NC Judge Sentences Man To 30 Years In Prison For Running The ‘World’s Largest Child-Porn Site’

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steven-chase-largest-porn-siteA North Carolina court has just sentenced 58-year-old Steven W. Chase to 30 years in prison for being the head administrator of a website called ‘Playpen’ – what authorities named the ‘world’s largest child-porn website’.

The website was hosted on a North Carolina-based web server, and was hidden from authorities in the deep internet, known as the ‘darknet,’ where Tor anonymity software and encryption technology hides users activities. The same technology was recently used to run the world’s largest online black market, called silk road.

Members of Playpen uploaded and viewed tens of thousands of postings of young victims, categorized by age, sex and the type of sexual activity involved.

At its height, the website had over 150,000 users around the world, according to a statement sent out by the FBI this past Friday.

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The FBI launched what they dubbed ‘Operation Pacifier’ in November 2014, aimed at taking down the site. They managed to hack into the website and sent all users in the system malware to discover their location and identity.

Over 1,000 computers around the world were ultimately hacked by the FBI.

Chase argued in court that the FBI’s tactics amounted to ‘outrageous government conduct’ and that his indictment should be dismissed.

In a statement this past Friday, Steven Wilson, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, noted that the case demonstrated how law enforcement needs to use such methods to fight criminals who can hide behind advanced online encryption software.

‘We need to balance the rights of victims versus the right to privacy,’ he noted. ‘If we operate by 19th century legal principles then we are unable to effectively tackle crime at the highest level.’

Michael Fluckiger, 46, of Indiana, and David Browning, 47, of Kentucky were also identified as admins of the website, and they were both sentenced to 20-year prison terms earlier this year.

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