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Revenge porn site Anon-IB just got shut down by Dutch police

The site had become a haven for U.S. military revenge porn, where members would request photos of women and tally their "wins."

by Alexa Liautaud
Apr 26 2018, 2:51pm

The anonymous revenge-porn sharing site Anon-IB, notorious for revenge and child pornography, has been shut down indefinitely by the Dutch National Police after a more than yearlong investigation into troves of nude photos. Dutch National Police arrested three men on cybercrime charges ranging from hacking to sharing stolen explicit images. Police confiscated data from two other suspects.

The website, which previously served as a hub for explicit images, now takes the user to a page with an announcement from the Dutch cybercrimes division.

“Cybercrime teams from the Dutch police have seized the Anon-IB forum in an ongoing investigation concerning criminal offenses,” the statement reads.

Anon-IB first gained notoriety in 2014 for its involvement in the hacking of celebrities' nude photos. In March, VICE News reported on an entire section on Anon-IB dedicated to sharing nude photos of military service members. The thread was organized by branch, where users traded photos of specific service members they knew. They encouraged each other to steal female service members' phones and would congratulate each other on “wins.”

The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) told VICE News they had investigated the website but found no photos that met their criminal threshold. NCIS said it was not involved in the operation but glad it was taken down.

“NCIS was not involved in the operation but is glad the site has been taken down,” Ed Buice, a spokesman for NCIS, told VICE News.

Read: Military revenge porn is thriving on anonymous servers and image boards. That makes it harder to stop.

Katelyn Bowden, founder of BADASS Army, a group of women dedicated to fighting nonconsensual image-sharing, celebrated the move.

“Anon-IB served no purpose but to harm and exploit women globally”

“We are so grateful to finally see someone take this form of victimization as seriously as it should be,” Bowden told VICE News. “Anon-IB served no purpose but to harm and exploit women globally, and BADASS is incredibly grateful to the Dutch Police for finally putting an end to this awful excuse for an image board.”

Bowden said her group had been anxiously awaiting arrests, which have been notoriously difficult considering the technologies used to conceal posters' identities.

Dutch authorities said the investigation began in March 2017 when a woman came forward with evidence that data from her cloud had been stolen and posted. Three men — a 31-year-old from Culemborg, a 35-year-old from Groningen, and a 28-year-old from Heerlen —were arrested for storing hundreds of images of nude Dutch women and hacking into emails, social media accounts, and cloud storage.

Police also said the suspects were able to capture sexually explicit footage from a few hundred women without the victims' knowledge, though it is unclear whether they did so from hacking computer cameras or through other means.

Police said they would notify victims whose images or personal data were obtained by the suspects once the investigation was completed. Though Anon-IB used to show images of women worldwide, a spokesperson told Motherboard the operation was solely executed by Dutch authorities, seeing as the servers were in the Netherlands.

Still, the shutdown of Anon-IB may shift the activity to more-sophisticated platforms. Users on Anon-IB frequently mentioned sharing photos by Discord, an invite-only online chat platform traditionally used by gamers.

Eros Resmini, Discord’s chief marketing officer, told VICE News last month that nonconsensual photo sharing was against the company’s community standards and if identified would warrant an “instant shutdown” on the servers and a permanent ban on the users. But as has been the case in the past, identifying the content and the users has become one of most difficult challenges.

Cover image: Soldiers, officers and civilian employees attend the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Army's annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in the Pentagon Center Courtyard March 31, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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