Danish filter catches Romanian child-porn sites

Danish filter catches Romanian child-porn sites: U.S. is third in a competition no country wants to win, By Kristian Hansen

June 12, 2008 With 86 sites, Romania is the country with the most domains caught in a Danish child-pornography filter.

However, the generic domains .com, .info, .biz and .net totaled 3,240 out of 3,864 domains caught by the filter in early 2008.

Computerworld Demark is in possession of the database of domains in the filter. The database is maintained by the Danish police, but it is enforced by 19 Danish Internet service providers on a voluntary basis.

Other countries listed in the database are the U.S. with 43 domains, Russia with 40 and the otherwise very controlled China with 23 domains. Remarkably, the small nation of Tonga has 85 domains on the list. In Europe, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Austria and Slovakia each have three or more domains in the filter.

Ulf Munkedal, CEO of Danish security company FortConsult AS, explained that the list probably is a reflection of where pedophiles can easily acquire domains without being traced.

‘Some countries barely require a Hotmail address or the like to buy a domain,’ he said.

Safety on different servers can also play a role.

‘Sometimes they can take over a server and a domain,’ he said. However, Munkedal said he believes that the particularly large number of domains from Romania may indicate that the authorities in that country may not always react too quickly to tips on child pornography. He also expressed surprise that so many Chinese domains are being blocked by the filter.

Danish domains investigated

For technical reasons, Denmark also has a domain in the database, www.stop.politi.dk. However, it is a subdomain of the Danish police force domain, politi.dk.

Danish domains will not be caught in the filter because that would make the owners aware that an investigation is under way, said the Danish police’s IT crime investigation unit.

In 2006, however, the Web site Bizar.dk was caught in the filter, but that was an error. The case ended with the police giving the owner of the site an apology.

Foreign authorities are informed

Soren Thomassen, head of the Danish police’s IT crime-investigation unit, would not comment on specific investigations, but he explained the principle that when Web sites from abroad land in the filter, the police in that country are directly informed.

‘It is standard procedure,’ he said.

Danish police, however, do not follow up on what action is taken by officials abroad in response to the Danish alerts.

While generic domains are not connected to particular countries, the locations of the people behind the sites can often be determined by tracking down payment information, which reveals the location, Thomassen said.

He would not comment on whether the various sites in different countries are parts of larger networks, but he noted that the sites sometimes link to one another and in that sense are certainly connected.

This is the list of countries with domains that have been caught in the Danish child-porn filter.

— Computerworld Danmark

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