FBI Likely Shared Information From Hacking Operation With UK

When the Federal Bureau of Investigation had busted PlayPen, an infamous child porn website on the dark net, they planted a malware to acquire the details of the users in early 2015 when the agency briefly controlled the domain. Now, it looks like that the FBI shared this info with the United Kingdom law enforcement authorities.

Vithusan Puvaneswaran (21), a Hayes man, pleaded guilty to three counts, including the making of an indecent photograph of a child, possessing prohibited images of children, and being in possession of extreme pornographic images, according to the Blackfriars Crown Court. During the house search of the 21-year-old man, the NCA found over 100 GB of illegal data on Puvaneswaran’s hard drive, including 48,000 images and videos. Among the pictures, there were some screenshots, which were originated from PlayPen.

Puvaneswaran, after plading guilty, was sentenced to 1 year of jail time and was given a sexual harm prevention order (which usually prevents offenders from working with children in the future).

According to the local media, the NCA “detected” Puvaneswaran’s IP address, and raided his home on March 15, 2015. However, the question still stands: how did the National Crime Agency acquire the IP of the man? Since PlayPen was a hidden site on the dark web, Puvaneswaran most probably used Tor to access the domain. That even made the NCA’s job harder. However, by the time of the 21-year-old man’s arrest, the FBI was using the malware to get the IP addresses of around 1300 PlayPen users. And, of course, it is not a rare thing for the Burau to share information with the British agency, they have done it in the past numerous times.

Sarah Selby, the prosecutor in Puvaneswaran’s case, declined to comment when reached by phone, however, she was quoted in the article by CourtNewsUK:

“Playpen is notorious because it is only available through Tor and allows users to upload original material.”

Matt Sutton, from the NCA’s CEOP Command, made this statement regarding the case:

“Every time an indecent image of a child is shared it adds to the abuse that child has suffered. The NCA works closely with international partners to share intelligence on people accessing indecent images of children online. They may think they are anonymous and can act with impunity if they operate on the hidden internet. But many have found in recent months that this is not the case.”

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