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More Websites Are Accepting Crypto for Child Sexual Abuse Content

The Internet Watch Foundation has identified over 1,000 websites that accept cryptocurrency as payment for child sexual abuse material.

The Internet Watch Foundation has identified over 1,000 websites that accept cryptocurrency as payment for child sexual abuse material.
Image: Oleg Ri (Shutterstock)

There are many dark corners on the web, and new data sheds light on one of them: the number of websites that accept cryptocurrency as a payment for child sexual abuse material has nearly doubled every year since 2018, according to the Internet Watch Foundation.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is a UK-based non-profit organization that seeks to minimize the spread of sexual abuse content on the Internet, and the IWF has found 250,000 websites containing abuse material. child sexual abuse in 2021. Of these, at least 1,014 accepted cryptocurrency to access or purchase child sexual abuse images and videos. In 2018, 81 sites were found. In 2019, 221 sites were found. In 2020, 468 websites were found. That’s a doubling every year.

“We are seeing cryptocurrency being used to pay for the distribution of abusive images and the sexual exploitation of children online, with perpetrators believing they can hide behind the anonymity of these virtual currencies,” said l Detective Inspector Darren Young of the Online Child Sexual Abuse. and the UK Metropolitan Police Operations Unit, cited by the IWF.

As a result, the IWF announced the formation of a Cryptography Unit to tackle this issue. growing problem, and the foundation says it has already received requests for information from law enforcement agencies from New Zealand to Austria. This crypto unit scours the internet for child sexual abuse material and documents all information related to media, website, server location and payment methods.

“If criminals are looking to profit from the sale of these images, we note everything we see on the payment pages of a website or forum, such as the wording used, the virtual currency and the amount, whether it is a daily, weekly or annual charge, and the cryptocurrency wallet address of the provider,” said an unnamed crypto unit analyst.

IWF says that Coinbase– one of the largest crypto exchange platforms – has apparently used the nonprofit’s data in the past to snuff out potentially illegal activity on their platform – identifying over 6,500 bad potential actors. Coinbase was also able to find and shut down website operators distributing CSAM.

Cryptocurrency as a whole has been embroiled in many controversial and criminal activity– whether directly or indirectly – but its use to buy media depicting child sexual abuse is probably the darkest example of this.