Last Friday, Eric Eoin Marques, the alleged founder of Freedom Hosting, was arrested for charges accusing him of being, in the words of a FBI agent to an Irish court, “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.”
Freedom Hosting is a major hidden services hosting provider that can only be accessed through the Tor network but its association with Marques wasn’t brought up in court.
Tor provides thousands of “volunteer-run nodes provides anonymity for users who don´t want to be tracked and identified on the internet, the lesser-known hidden service feature of Tor provides anonymity also for the server operator.” Part of these services that Tor provides are hidden services as part of Tor “darknet” which includes anonymized Web sites, mail hosts, and other services that can only be accessed by computers connected to Tor or via hidden services proxy website, such as tor2web.org, and the host names ends in .onion.
Freedom Hosting and Marques has been associated with child pronography so now, Tor released a statement claiming that they are in no way associated with the people running Freedom Hosting:
So if hidden servers are anonymous and secured, how was the FBI able to crackdown Freedom Hosting’s operations?
This isn’t the first time Freedom Hosting was targeted in relation to child pornography. Last year, the hackivist collective Anonymous launched #OpDarknet which targeted darknet sites part of Hidden Wiki. Anonymous allegedly found Hard Candy, a listing of child pornography sites, such as Lolita City. Anonymous gave them enough time to take down the sites, but when the deadline came and no action was done, the sites were taken offline.