The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has closed down a network of websites that distributed hundreds of thousands of child abuse images and videos through an internet domain linked to a remote island off the Australian coast.
The AFP collaborated with the Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands to probe websites that exploited the geographically affiliated .cc domain to circulate exploitative materials.
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The .cc domain, territorially linked to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and overseen by a major tech company in the United States, has appeared on child exploitation watchlists over the past decade.
In a targeted operation, the AFP identified and shut down ten websites responsible for disseminating nearly one million child abuse images and videos.
Access to these sites was disrupted on October 10, 2023. Since then, tens of thousands of attempted visits have been logged from various locations worldwide.
The AFP is actively referring the IP addresses and identities of those who attempted to access the blocked sites from other countries to their respective law enforcement agencies for further investigation.
AFP acting Commander Cybercrime Tim Stainton said viewing or sharing child abuse material was not a victimless crime.
“These videos and images show real children being exploited, physically harmed and traumatised for the perverse gratification of offenders. Each time these files are shared, it perpetuates the harm caused to these children,” Commander Stainton said.
“Australian domain names should not, and will not, be a safe haven for this kind of horrible content,” he said.
“The AFP will use every tool in its arsenal, from website takedowns to seizing servers and arresting those who provide, access or distribute the material, to help keep children safe.”
Going forward, visitors to these websites will encounter a ‘takedown notice’ issued by the AFP, preventing any access to the previously hosted child exploitation content.
Investigations continue to identify the administrators, contributors, and users of the illicit websites.
If you or someone you know is impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available at www.accce.gov.au/support.
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