The Belgian federal police and Child Focus are conducting an investigation relating to an Internet site, that serves as an exchange portal upon which pedophiles publish and comment upon numerous photos taken on social media. Almost 3 million images are on the platform, showing holiday snaps of Belgian children. The Sudpresse and Mediahuis publications revealed this on Tuesday.
Some 17 million visitors browse this site every month. The majority of the photos are perfectly innocent, posted online by parents on Instagram and Facebook. Underneath these photos, pedophiles are posting inappropriate and disrespectful comments. Sijmen Ruwhof, a Dutch cyber-security specialist, says that other much more explicit photographs are available on the Internet using password-protected access.
The federal police are aware of the situation and are to investigate the images. Yves Goethals explains, “To begin with, the Internet site was a place where photos were exchanged. However, it quickly became a contact point as between pedophiles.” Goethals is Head of the Section for Child Abuse for the federal police.
Dirk Depover, the spokesman for Child Focus, explained to Belga, “The existence of the platform has already been reported. However, the fact that it is hosted in Russia by anonymous individuals complicates the situation somewhat.” He goes on, “New technologies each bring their own daily challenges for the police, the courts and NGOs affected.” He adds, “This is why international cooperation is vital.” The organisation is calling for everyone to exercise caution, and encourages individuals to “protect their social media content.”