FBI hosts child porn site for two weeks

In only partially successful sting operation, agents actively distributed child porn

By Natasha Lennard
Published May 29, 2013 11:56PM (UTC)
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The ever-eroding line in the sand separating FBI sting and entrapment schemes has perturbed civil libertarians and legal experts for sometime. Then there are other tenuous divisions drawn in federal operations, such as the distinction between an FBI sting and an active child porn ring. Although child porn stings have long been the purview of the FBI, a recent operations appears to mark to first instance of agents actively distributing porn to trap other users. The ethics are fraught -- rendered more so by the fact that the ongoing, months-long investigation has only led to the seizure of one suspect's computer.

As the Seattle P.I. reported:


Following a lengthy investigation, Nebraska-based agents raided the large child pornography service in November hoping to catch users who shared thousands of images showing children being raped, displayed and abused.

The Bureau ran the service for two weeks while attempting to identify more than 5,000 customers, according to a Seattle FBI agent's statements to the court. Court records indicate the site continued to distribute child pornography online while under FBI control; the Seattle-based special agent, a specialist in online crimes against children, detailed the investigation earlier this month in a statement to the court.

... Historically, child pornography investigations stem from tips made to law enforcement, interactions with undercover officers posing as customers or reviews of documentation seized during searches of child porn clearinghouses like the one recently raided in Nebraska. While investigators are known to have posed as child porn dealers – a 2011 effort involved targeted emails to suspected pedophiles – it is not apparent that the FBI previously dealt child porn as part of a sting.

The Nebraska investigation is still in its early stages, and, while charges appear to be forthcoming, no one being prosecuted has been publicly tied to the site thus far.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Child Porn Child Pornography Fbi Nebraska Sting