[LINK] Senate Standing Committee: NetAlert/Mandatory filtering updates

rene rene.lk at libertus.net
Wed Feb 20 23:14:49 EST 2008

On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 11:25:38 +1000, Michael Meloni wrote:
> Someone from the department last night commented that international
> filtering examples have shown that URLs to illegal sites change rapidly
> (due to police action, to avoid detection etc) and as such the URLs on
> the blacklist change often. I believe the example they used was around
> 1500 actives sites on the list at any one time (I cannot remember which
> country they were referring to).

Almost undoubtedly they (ACMA) would have been referring to the IWF list in 
the U.K. The IWF says its list typically has 800-1500 live URLs on it at 
any one time, and they issue an updated list to ISPs twice daily.

The IWF's Annual Report 2006 (issued April 2007) said this:

"Longevity of commercial websites
We track and monitor commercial child abuse websites and have found that 
some of the most prolific websites selling child abuse images avoid 
detection by regularly ‘hopping’ server, continuously changing country and 
police jurisdiction in an effort to thwart the investigative process to 
avoid being closed down and prosecuted.

One site, for example, has been reported to us 224 times since 2002; 
another has been reported to us 54 times since 2000 and in that time has 
been found on seven different servers in different countries; yet another 
has been reported by us to the relevant authorities 32 times since 2005.
Some of the most prolific of these commercial child abuse websites have 
remained ‘live’ for long periods of time, despite our concerted efforts to 
the contrary. 94 of these websites reported by us to relevant authorities 
in 2006 are known to have been actively selling child abuse images in 2005. 
Indeed, 33 were ‘live’ in 2004 and 32 were ‘live’ prior to that.

We regularly pass details of the websites and other intelligence to 
Interpol via our own police agency links, to international hotlines and the 
apparent host countries’ own police services to enable them to launch a 
united assault on the organised criminals selling images of child abuse. 
However, the ever-changing jurisdictions, the differing laws, priorities 
and police responses as well as the varying cooperation of internet service
providers around the world, mean that some countries face challenges to 
remove content."

However, there appears to be more reasons for the problem than the IWF 

- there is, according to numerous online reports etc, an organised crime 
group known as the "Russian Business Network" that allegedly international 
police have been trying to find/catch for years. I've read somewhere IIRC 
that it's alleged to be behind about 300 c-p sites that do constantly 
change servers and RBN's also said to be the source of a lot of phishing 
spam etc etc.

- IWF says most of the c-p sites on its list are hosted in Russia and the 
U.S.A. However, some material likely to be on U.S.A. sites that IWF would  
consider to be an "indecent", and hence illegal image, under U.K. law, 
would not be illegal under U.S. law. Hence, it seems unsurprising IWF can't 
get the U.S. authorities to remove *some* sites. (The same situation would 
likely occur with some items on the ACMA list due to differences between AU 
and US law).

- The U.S. authorities are known not to immediately shut down illegal 
sites, they sometimes/always(?) leave them operating for the purpose of 
gathering more evidence (e.g. wait for more people to have paid to access 
the site). 

- A group of several police forces around the world (including the AFP)
have set up sites which they say "purport to contain images of child abuse" 
for the purpose of catching people who access same, known as Operation PIN. 
Presumably these sites get moved when they are blacklisted, or they just 
stay in the same place and so it appears to hotlines like the IWF that the 
authorities are not doing anything to remove the sites. (At least 2 people 
have been convicted in Australia as a result of either accessing one of 
these police sites, or purchasing via a Usenet newsgroup contact, c-p 
material mailed to them on a CD by US police, according to court judgments 
available online.)


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