Danish hackers associated with the global online activist group Anonymous have publicly outed two suspected child sex abusers in what they characterise as an attempt to clean up Danish websites that are “filled with paedophilia”, Berlingske newspaper reports.
The hackers released the names of two men suspected of paedophilia, one last week on Friday and one on Wednesday. One of the men was fired from his job following the release of his name and his house has been searched by national police Rigspolitiet’s IT research centre, NITEC. Two of the man’s computers were seized as evidence.
A post on the Facebook page of Anonymous Denmark appears to indicate that the hack was carried out in connection with Anonymous’s support of #Op SafeKids, a collective effort to report child porn and sex trafficking on Facebook and other online sites.
Berlingske spoke with one of the hackers involved, who goes by the name of ‘Locutuz’.
“They should have expected us, and they can expect that this will continue to happen,” Locutuz told the newspaper.
Locutuz’s response mirrors the universal calling card of Anonymous: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
NITEC vice police inspector Johnny Lundberg, however, told Berlingske that hackers should not take matters into their own hands.
“There are many cases of child abuse online, and we investigate a large number of them each year,” Lundberg said. “Of course there are more out there than we investigate, but that doesn’t mean that people should play police and expose people on the net.”
Thomas Ploug, who is a lecturer in IT ethics and a member of parliament's ethics advisory panel, Det Etiske Råd, told The Copenhagen Post that he disapproved of the hackers’ methods.
"This is not the only way to catch paedophiles," Ploug said. "If people come across information that could lead to catching these people, they should pass it on to police. We are state based on law and passing judgement on these actions should be left to the courts."
He added that there is the possibility that entrapment could have been involved and that the hackers are bypassing the legal process.
"We want to do this the right way by the right people. Not everyone should play policeman. That is not the kind of society we want."
Ploug also stressed that even if the suspected men were found guilty of paedophila, it would not justify the hackers’ actions.
The hackers’ claim that they are not doing anything illegal and their assertion that online child pornography is a problem in Denmark seems to be corroborated by a large bust in December in which 19 men nationwide were arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. One arrestee alone had around 29 terabytes of pornographic material, which could translate into over 9,000 hours of video.