After being taken down two years ago, Lolita City is back with 10 times the number of users.
Despite having been taken down, the child pornography website Lolita City is back up and now with 10 times the number of ‘residents’. In 2011 the hacktivist group Anonymous launched Operation Darknet (#OpDarknet), also known as To Catch a Predator, aimed at bringing down websites that host child pornography on Tor, a free software that offers online anonymity and ultimately unlimited navigation to the darkest corners of the internet.
In a YouTube video the group states that “as a collective, we have declared war on pedophilia” and looked to take down Freedom Hosting, a service which they claim hosts over 40 pedophilia websites. One of #OpDarknet’s main targets was Lolita City, the website that prides itself in providing users with over 100GB of child pornography content.
After a series of attacks on the website, Anonymous’ hackers were able to remove links to photographs and videos on Hidden Wiki which would then direct users to Lolita City, making the website unaccessible. The operation was successful at the time; Lolita City and other websites were taken down by members of Anonymous and 1500 pedophiles were exposed – users’ IP addresses were identified and mapped. Anonymous celebrated their victory against evil, and apparently all was well.
But now, two years later, not only is Lolita City back online, the website has 14,969 members, 10 times as many as before Operation Darknet. The website now also hosts a new video platform, created in November last year. It seems that Operation Darknet ultimately (and ironically) resulted in promoting Lolita City due to its extensive exposure in the media. Along with offering a vast archive of around 1,349,075 pictures, the website is home to a number of discussion forums that are becoming more and more international; Russian, Spanish and English speakers dominate the online conversation.
Anonymous probably would never have imagined that their campaign would have had the exact opposite effect to what they intended, and are hopefully somewhere in the world right now in their Guy Fawkes masks plotting a new attack against online pedophilia. Even the FBI have failed and have had to stop investigations due to Tor’s anonymizing tool which masks users’ identities and makes them especially challenging to track, but we’re optimistic and hoping for a backlash.
Photo: Jon E. Robertson via Flickr