Exploring the Dark World of Child Sexual Exploitation
In the shadows of the internet, a harrowing reality persists – the exploitation and sale of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) using cryptocurrency. Despite efforts to combat this heinous crime, new evidence suggests that sellers are adapting and enhancing their use of cryptocurrency to continue their illicit activities. As a cryptocurrency tracing firm, Chainalysis has revealed compelling insights into this distressing trend, shedding light on the grim evolution of online child sexual exploitation.
Rising Sophistication in CSAM Sales
Chainalysis’ recent research indicates a decline in total revenue from CSAM sold for cryptocurrency since 2021, with a reduced number of new CSAM sellers accepting crypto. However, amidst this decline, the sophistication of crypto-based CSAM sales has risen significantly. Sellers are now employing privacy tools like “mixers” and “privacy coins” to obscure their financial trails across blockchains. Consequently, this increased proficiency has enabled CSAM vendors to evade law enforcement for a longer duration, posing greater challenges in identification, tracing, prosecution, and victim rescue.
Extended Lifespan and Relative Impunity
Alarming findings from Chainalysis’ study revealed that crypto-based CSAM vendors are now enduring online for a longer period than ever before. On average, active CSAM vendors in 2023 remained online for 884 days, a significant increase from 560 days in 2022 and a mere 112 days in 2020. This prolonged presence suggests a concerning level of impunity, facilitated by the growing utilization of cryptocurrency mixers and privacy coins.
Preferential Use of Monero and Instant Exchangers
Notably, Chainalysis discovered a surge in the use of “instant exchanger” services that enable the trade of bitcoins for privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash, designed to obscure transaction details. Specifically, Monero has gained popularity among CSAM purveyors for laundering funds and soliciting donations. The prevalence of Monero in transactions involving CSAM vendors indicates its key role in facilitating their prolonged online presence and resilience to takedown efforts.
– Despite a decline in total revenue from CSAM sold for cryptocurrency since 2021, the sophistication of crypto-based CSAM sales has increased.
– CSAM vendors are employing privacy tools like “mixers” and “privacy coins” to obfuscate their financial trails, making identification and tracing more challenging.
– The average online presence of active CSAM vendors in 2023 extended to 884 days, signifying a disturbing level of relative impunity.
– The preference for Monero and instant exchangers has contributed to the increased survival rates of CSAM vendors online.
In summary, the analysis conducted by Chainalysis signifies a concerning trend in the exploitation of cryptocurrency for the sale of child sexual abuse materials. The persistent evolution and growing sophistication among CSAM vendors highlight the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address and combat this profoundly distressing issue.