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21 hours ago · 2 min read 1
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Freenet Users Deanonymized

on Dec 08, 2015

Freenet, a peer-to-peer network that has been around since March of 2000, and has always been touted as censorship-resistant. It is written in Java and provides a decentralized platform to host websites. Back in 2013 when the Tor hidden service FreedomHosting was attacked and arrests were made, as some of the site's hosted by FreedomHosting hosted child porn, Freenet's website claimed that "This ... could not happen on Freenet." Well it appears that it has happened on Freenet, and has been happening since at least 2011, which means people were being deanonymized at the time the Freenet site was writing that such a thing couldn't happen on Freenet. According to the Grand Forks Herald, and Hacker10, users of Freenet were deanonymized by law enforcement in North Dakota.

From Hacker10:
"Court records related to Paul Bradley Meagher, a University of North Dakota police officer arrested for downloading child porn from the “anonymous” peer to peer network Freenet, reveal that the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation had been running an undercover operation in the network since 2011, planting their own nodes inside Freenet to be able to log people’s IPs and trace the final destination of users downloading illegal material.

The Dakota student news site relates how Investigating Officer Jesse Smith managed to get hold of Paul Bradley’s laptop still switched on and running Freenet on the Wifi network, law enforcement discovered child porn images during the preview before seizing the laptop, arresting the suspect, whom, at that point refused to talk with the investigators. Paul Bradley has now been charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for each count, facing a possible 50 years in jail.

The Grand Forks Herald from North Dakota cites detective Jesse Smith in the affidavit as admitting to her department running nodes in Freenet to be able to track people downloading files included in a list of known child porn file hashes from the police database."

Hacker10 goes on to note that in 2014 ICAC, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, ran a Freenet workshop for law enforcement to present what they called the "Black Ice Project." According to ICAC's website the workshop "will describe the basic functioning of Freenet, how persons exchanging child abuse material, the system’s vulnerabilities and how the Black Ice project exploits them.”

Have you used Freenet? Do you trust it more than Tor or i2p? For those of you who wish to check out Freenet without downloading the software, Sigaint, a tor hidden services provider, has their own Freenet gateway that can be accessed on tor here: http://freenet7cul5qsz6.onion

Hacker10 - Police plants own computers in Freenet, log IPs, makes arrest

Grand Forks Herald - Child predators use technology, but law enforcement does too

Freenet - 2013-08-05 - Statement on the recent Freedom Hosting (Tor) bust


user_name1 day ago
klauszimmermannon Dec 16, 2015

Oh god... these are really some bad news.

I haven't used Freenet yet (was and still am planning), but I'm an avid user of Tor and I2P (my favorite besides ZeroNet). Guess I'll have to think about some things now!

I think the main lessons learned from all of these is that you can never be too careful about the things you do online - even if it's in a fairly anonymous environment.

Take care out there, man.

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