‘Freedom Hosting’ Web Admin Gets 27 Years In Prison For Hosting 200+ Child Pornography Sites

An anonymous reader quotes the Record: An Irish man who ran a cheap dark web hosting service has been sentenced today to 27 years in prison for turning a blind eye to customers hosting child sex abuse material. Eric Eoin Marques, 36, from Dublin, operated the Freedom Hosting service between July 2008 and July 2013, when he was arrested following an FBI investigation.

“The investigation revealed that the hosting service contained over 200 child exploitation websites that housed millions of images of child exploitation material,” the US Department of Justice said today, announcing Marques’ sentencing. “Over 1.97 million of these images and/or videos were not previously known by law enforcement,” officials said.


Flashback to 2013: [T]he FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors. Freedom Hosting’s operator, Eric Eoin Marques, had rented the servers from an unnamed commercial hosting provider in France, and paid for them from a bank account in Las Vegas.

It’s not clear how the FBI took over the servers in late July, but the bureau was temporarily thwarted when Marques somehow regained access and changed the passwords, briefly locking out the FBI until it gained back control. The new details emerged in local press reports from a Thursday bail hearing in Dublin, Ireland, where Marques, 28, is fighting extradition to America on charges that Freedom Hosting facilitated child pornography on a massive scale…

Security researchers dissected the code and found it exploited a security hole in Firefox to identify users of the Tor Browser Bundle, reporting back to a mysterious server in Northern Virginia. The FBI was the obvious suspect, but declined to comment on the incident. The FBI also didn’t respond to inquiries from WIRED today. But FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brooke Donahue was more forthcoming when he appeared in the Irish court yesterday to bolster the case for keeping Marque behind bars.”