Tougher moves needed to curb sex abuse via Dark Web

PETALING JAYA: Stamping out child pornography and sexual abuse is a long battle for both law enforcement and activists in the country.

While the arrests of notorious paedophile Richard Huckle (pic)and Malaysian student Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin have resulted in prosecution and jail terms, much still has to be done to tackle child pornography and sexual abuse.

More recently, activities over the Dark Web have proven to be a concern.

In 2016, Huckle was arrested in Britain after he posed as a social worker in countries including Malaysia where he sexually abused children and recorded his exploits.

richard huckle

He was later sentenced to life in prison for 22 counts of sexual assaults against children.

Nur Fitri, a Mara scholar studying Mathematics in Imperial College, was arrested in London after child pornography was found on his computer in 2015.

The 23-year-old from Kampar, Perak, who had been making and sharing smut, was later sentenced by the Southwark Crown Court to five years in jail after pleading guilty to 13 offences, including the possession of indecent images and videos with intent to distribute the material.

Following such incidents, activists have called for tougher measures, including creating a registry for sex offenders.

Last year, the police set up the Malaysia Internet Crime Against Children Investigation Unit while in Parliament in 2017, lawmakers passed the Sexual Offences Against Children Act, which includes provisions to deal with the making, distributing, accessing and possessing of child pornography.

However, in a previous report, HELP University director of Institute of Crime and Criminology Datuk Akhbar Satar said the Dark Web was being used by web-based gangs, organised criminals, the mafia and terrorists as a marketplace to purchase illegal goods such as drugs, human organs, child pornography, counterfeit money, fake passports, firearms, ammunition and explosives.

It also involves money laundering, human trafficking, prostitution, child exploitation and grooming and bounty hunters.

Accessible only through a specialised software, the Dark Web is known to be associated with criminal activities.

Akhbar had said that combating criminal activities operating in the Dark Web required more proactive efforts compared to traditional security.

“It demands cyber security experts and technical resources combined with an innovative approach.

“The government has to introduce a dedicated cybercrime unit to tackle the Dark Web,” he said.

Akhbar said for short-term measures, law enforcement agencies and regulators should form a task force with Cybersecurity Malaysia and acquire the capabilities related to Deep Web analysis to effectively conduct investigations into serious criminal activities operating in the Dark Web.

“For long-term planning, the government may consider forming a federal crime agency with a range of specialist capabilities to fight serious organised crime.”

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