Euro police raid 80 homes in crack down on child pornography
An alleged child pornography ring has been smashed according to Europol. A combined operation involving six EU member states searched around 80 house and made a number of arrests.
The operation, called ‘Icebreaker II’ carried out raids in France, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK following investigation and surveilliance of chat rooms and bulletin boards led by Italy’s Carabinieri police. According to the Italian law enforcement agencies, the members of the chat rooms were involved in the possession and distribution of child abuse material. The group also used sophisticated techniques to hide members’ electronic identities and to encrypt communications between each other.
The raids follow the earlier ‘Icebreaker’ operation earlier this year. That much bigger operation across 13 countries in Europe led to the identification of 130 suspects alleged to be involved in child pornography. Those investigations are continuing with the aim of tracking down both the victims and the producers of the material. So far one person has been charged following the investigations.
Elsewhere, Belgium, which was the centre of a notorious child pornography case a few years ago, has come up with a new system to protect children online. In a joint initiative between the Belgian government, major ISPs and software companies, the country has introduced a ‘Safer Chat’ system.
Children are being issued with ID cards – which are soon to be made mandatory in Belgium – with a chip and PIN system. Before a child can enter a chat room, they have to place the card in a reader before being allowed access. This means that paedophiles cannot ‘groom’ their victims by pretending to be children themselves. The software will not allow access to the chat room unless both the card and the PIN are entered correctly.