The FBI Ran a Child Porn Site for Two Whole Weeks

Last November, the FBI raided a bulletin board-style site that was known to be a home of child pornography. But rather than shutting it down, they decided to keep it running—and see just how many users they could identify.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bureau agents posed as child porn dealers, actively distributing pornography while the site was under their control—just as other agencies perform sting operations with drugs and prostitution.

It's not yet clear if the technique worked that well: in the two week period, the FBI attempted to identify 5,600 users who had shared over 10,000 images of children, but s0 far it's only known that one suspect's computers have been seized. Still, it might be too early to judge. The investigation is still, apparently, in its early stages and, while nobody has yet been prosecuted, charges are believed to be forthcoming.

What can, perhaps, be judged, is the ethical position of distributing child pornography to incriminate suspects. Is it worse than supplying drugs in a sting? Or is it fair game given the end result? What do you think? [San Francisco Chronicle via Verge]

Image by Oleksiy & Tetyana under Creative Commons license