EU police agency arrests 112 over online child porn

Europol warns that the Internet is making it easier for offenders to distribute child porn

Europe’s police force has arrested more than 100 people in a major crackdown on online child porn, but warned that the Internet is making it easier for offenders to share images.

Europol carried out the raids as part of Operation Icarus, the first operation conducted as part of the new action plan from European Union police chiefs, funded by the European Commission.

The operation targeted those sharing the most extreme forms of video material, which included babies and toddlers being sexually abused and raped, and 112 suspects, spread across 22 countries, were arrested.

The national high-tech crime unit of the Danish police led the investigations because of its expertise in illegal peer-to-peer file sharing. Nineteen men were arrested and 59 computers and 2,430 storage devices were seized in Denmark alone.

The amount of data involved was massive: one suspect in Switzerland allegedly had more than 120 terabytes of data amounting to 36,000 hours of high-quality video on his computer another had 29 terabytes of data featuring 9,000 hours of video.

Although much of the material seized is still awaiting forensic examination, Europol said that this operation has already uncovered previously unknown networks of child sex offenders operating on different Internet channels.

"This is the latest major success in over 10 years of Europol supporting law enforcement agencies in Europe in their fight against child sex abuse online," said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.

"This operation shows how the Internet is helping offenders to develop better techniques for sharing images on a global basis and for protecting their identity. The problems involved are becoming harder to police and call for sustained efforts by policy-makers and law enforcement agencies to ensure that society’s response remains strong and agile in this area."

Europol identified a total of 269 suspects and more arrests are expected. Special focus will be on identifying the producers of the material, said Europol.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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