DOCUMENT: Sex, Crime

Porn Site Gave Federal Agents Free Rein

Probers secretly monitored Free6.com for 16 months

DECEMBER 8--The operators of a notorious pornography web site granted federal agents administrative access to the site, giving investigators the ability to monitor traffic and public and private chats in an effort to identify users trading “a significant amount of child pornography,” records show.

Beginning in October 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents secretly monitored activity on Free6.com from inside the porn site, which launched in 1998. That covert operation ended earlier this year when Los Angeles-based ICE agents discovered that the web site “had been removed from the Internet by the company responsible for hosting the website.”

To determine what happened to the site, agents assigned to the Child Exploitation Investigations Group (CEIG) subsequently contacted a Free6.com administrator with whom they had previously worked. It was then that they learned the man was “incarcerated in the Philippines and facing charges for running an adult pornography business contrary to Filipino law.”

The government’s Free6.com contact is not identified in a recent ICE affidavit, excerpted here, that discloses the agency’s 16-month run as a shadow administrator of the porn site. It is unknown how many criminal cases have been made as a result of ICE’s monitoring of Free6.com, though TSG has identified two men who have been charged this year with trading child porn in its chat rooms.

According to the ICE affidavit, agents began investigating Free6.com since visitors had been misusing the site’s chat function to traffic illicit images (probers noted that the site “appears to be a legal website featuring adult pornography”). When Agent Neil Burdick contacted the site seeking help in obtaining IP addresses of individuals posting child porn, “cooperative” Free6.com administrators volunteered to assist ICE investigators.

In October 2008, ICE was given an administrative password that gave agents “the ability to review all traffic taking place in the Free6 chat rooms, both public and private chats.” With the password, law enforcement officials “were able to view all logged chats/posts made from the same screen name, or the same IP address.” This administrative access gave agents a remarkable opportunity to monitor--in real-time or after-the-fact--the violation of child porn laws.

While Free6.com included a notice warning that the posting of “child pornography or other illegal material” would be reported to “local authorities,” Burdick had site administrators add a line noting that, “Free6.com may disclose these communications to the authorities at its discretion.”

Though some bloggers have speculated about whether law enforcement officials have secretly been given administrative access to sites where users have been known to post child pornography (like 4chan), the Free6.com arrangement is apparently the first such compact to be disclosed by investigators. (4 pages)

Comments (4)

So the feds had access to all the smut they could eat for 16 months at no charge? It's good to be the kings. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Thanks feds for keeping me "safe" from all the evils in the world.
The world is a sewer, and as we all know, "liquid seeks it's own level".
They need to check out Justin.tv. A social webcam site. So many men perving on young teenage girls. Show boobs, get naked, show feet, go to tinychat, etc. Personal emails and phone numbers being posted in chats. And naked girls and guys jerking showing up on the social page. The admins and staff do nothing but ban some of the people who report. Pretty disgusting watching a 30 year old man asking these young girls to get naked and no admins monitoring this kind of stuff or banning the pedophiles. Justin.tv even allows broadcasts of cockfighting and bullfighting.
I've watched plenty of broadcasts on Justin.tv. I've never seen anything you're describing here. A couple of times I've seen people put up porn only to have it taken down shortly thereafter. Clearly, you have ulterior motives to slander. I figure you're one of those pervs that got shut down.