Dutch Authorities Seize Revenge Porn Site Anon-IB, Arrest Three Men

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Dutch police force Politie has seized the anonymous message board Anon-IB, a major hub of revenge porn and harassment campaigns with servers based in the Netherlands, and charged three men with “computer intrusion and spreading nude photos,” according to CNET.

According to a Dutch police statement, the site has been taken offline after young woman said revealing images from her cloud account had been stolen and released via the site in March 2017. Authorities launched a year-long investigation of the site that found the suspect in that case had a large repository of images stolen from other women, eventually determining that at least four suspects in the Netherlands were involved in a conspiracy to “gain access to e-mail inboxes, social media accounts and digital storage places such as clouds” of “a few hundred women.”

Reports in Dutch media suggest that the site was associated with a large network of men who used chat rooms and file-sharing sites like New Zealand-based Mega to compile photos of and information on the victims, many of whom were underage.

As pointed out by security company Sophos, Anon-IB had a reputation as a place where web users could go to find people willing to help them target women for humiliation via revenge porn. It had sections devoted to non-consensual pornography including “Creepshots,” “Drunk/Passed Out,” and “Peeping Toms.”

URLs associated with Anon-IB now redirect to a Pastebin site claiming the creators of the board are innocent and “is as surprised as everybody else regarding the seizure of our and our client’s servers hard drives by the Dutch police. We vehemently deny any and all accusations regarding revenge porn, and child pornography.” They also claim to have been unfairly associated with a predecessor site, AnonIB, though Anon-IB has been previously reported to be a hub for revenge porn as well. According to the Verge, it also became a hub for US military service members who left Facebook in the wake of a massive revenge porn scandal.

In the US, there is no federal law against revenge porn, meaning enforcement is largely based on a patchwork of state laws or other laws against computer intrusion or blackmail. In 2014, revenge porn site operator Hunter Moore was successfully prosecuted not for distributing the images themselves, but for paying someone to hack into another’s computer. According to Motherboard, Dutch investigators tend to be among the most aggressive pursuing revenge porn cases, and won a lawsuit against Facebook in 2015 to obtain the identity of a man who had posted a nude video of his ex-girlfriend.

While other members of the Anon-IB network will likely regroup elsewhere, Dutch police say they will be notifying each of the hundreds of women identified that compromising media of them is circulating online.

In the meantime, Rachel, a member of anti-revenge porn group BADASS, told Motherboard, “What a wonderful thing to wake up to! I would say that it feels like I can breathe easier and have one less thing on my mind! … It’s obviously something we’ve been striving towards and hoping for so it feels good to know that, even if it is temporary, those are still crucial hours that victims are not being viewed or traded on that platform.”

[CNET/The Verge/Motherboard]



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