After being at the center of a major scandal tied to child pornography, South Korea is taking steps to address the use of the dark web for criminal activity.
Dark web South Korea- In October, law enforcement officials in South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced that over 300 individuals had been arrested in cooperation with 35 other countries in connection with an investigation into a shuttered child pornography site on the dark web. Authorities were able to take down the site by tracing the bitcoin transactions that were used as payment. They were also able to rescue 23 underage victims.
The shuttered website, Welcome to Video, has been described as the largest child pornography site discovered to date and explicitly only allowed users to upload child pornography. It contained more than 250,000 unique videos and is estimated to have distributed over a million videos.
The dark web was originally conceived in the 1990s as an encrypted and anonymized network inaccessible by ordinary internet users that would allow for sensitive communications between U.S. spies. While that initial vision didn’t come to fruition, there was hope that it could provide human rights activists and others an anonymous means of communications — particularly those who face monitored communications in authoritarian states. But it has also become a source of criminal activity, especially with the advent of means of payment outside of the control of national governments in the form of cryptocurrency.
While the dark web allowed Welcome to Video to remain hidden away from most internet users, this case has prompted a wider investigation in South Korea as the website was run by South Korean Jong Woo Son and two-thirds of the suspects were South Koreans.