Saturday, March 11, 2017

PlayPen Moderator Gets 20-Year Sentence For Promoting Child Porn

David Lynn Browning, a 47-year-old moderator of PlayPen, a darknet child pornography distribution marketplace, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for promoting inappropriate and illicit content.

Over the past few months, DeepDotWeb have provided extensive coverage on the trials of administrators and moderators of PlayPen. On February 1, in an article entitled “Third Co-Admin of the Child Pornography Site “PlayPen” Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison,” DeepDotWeb reported that Michael Fluckiger, known as “Administrator 2” of PlayPen, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The imprisonment of Browing marks the fourth moderator or administrator of PlayPen who has been arrested for actively promoting child pornography in the dark web. The official statement released by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) read:

“According to admissions made in connection with the plea, Browning acted as the global moderator of a highly-sophisticated global enterprise dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children, organized via a members-only website that operated on the Tor anonymity network, through which he and more than 150,000 other members authored and viewed tens of thousands of postings relating to sexual abuse of children as young as infants and toddlers.”

Browning was also proven guilty for overseeing the daily operations of PlayPen which involved deleting any additional content which was unrelated to child pornography. In his trial, Browning admitted that he personally contributed 1,000 postings to PlayPen and hired technology, security and privacy experts to eliminate any potential trails that could lead back to the real identities of PlayPen moderators.

Although the investigation into the corporate structure of PlayPen is still in progress, the FBI, which seized the server of PlayPen in February of 2015, will not be able to charge any of PlayPen users or clients that have obtained child pornography through the site.

As previously covered by DeepDotWeb in April and October of 2016, US federal judge William Young ruled the FBI’s warrant to seize the servers of PlayPen and maintain them for additional two weeks to surveil on PlayPen users as not valid.

In a court hearing, the FBI was required to forfeit the technical details of the Network Investigative Technique (NIT) the organization used to surveil on the users of PlayPen. The FBi declined to reveal any specific information in regards to the NIT used in the investigation of PlayPen and chose to drop all charges filed against child pornography buyers on PlayPen.

At the time, judge William Young said in a ruling:

“Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court concludes that the NIT Warrant was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void ab initio. It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all. Since warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable, and the good-faith exception is inapplicable, the evidence must be excluded.”

Already, the DoJ stated that 51 abusers of child pornography have been prosecuted and 55 American children who fell victim to illegal and immoral sexual exploitation and abuse have been rescued. Following Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the DoJ in 2006 to fight against the distribution of child pornography and sexual abuse of underaged children, the DoJ and local law enforcement agencies plan to continue their investigation into darkweb child pornography distributors.