Kiddie Porn Vigilante


Forbes Digital Tool

By Adam L. Penenberg

Vigilante hacker Christian Valor, a.k.a. "Se7en," is searching for his 100th online pedophile target, someone who trades and traffics in child pornography on the Internet.

There is absolutely NO evidence that se7en has ever hacked a single server. As one of the people he used to ask for help hacking a server, I can safely say he has relied on other people to do his work for him.

The problem is that even people who swap child porn images have constitutional rights. But Valor arrogantly disregards them when he assumes the role of judge, jury and executioner.

Once in a while, Valor, who heads Berkeley Research Group, a computer security firm based in Berkeley, Calif., alerts the authorities to online ...

Berkeley Research Group does not exist. This is a fictional company name se7en uses.

... pedophiles he discovers. Other times, he informs an alleged pedophile's employer. But Valor prefers to dish out justice himself. While his actions are clearly illegal, his victims are not about to call the cops on him. And law enforcement agents have been more than willing to turn a blind eye to his activities. Valor tracks down pedophiles over the Internet, breaks into their computers, erases any child porn images he comes across and destroys their hard drives. Then he hacks into the target's Internet Service Provider to change the log-in message so that every user who tries to get on the net that day learns that one of their members was found in possession of kiddie porn. For good measure, he sends the pictures and directory to the ISP's systems administrator, "so they don't come after me," Valor says.

None of the above actions are performed by se7en. There has been NO evidence or proof, or verifiation from any admin of these actions.

There are bad hackers--often referred to as "crackers"--who break into computers, rummage around networks or hard drives, delete files and even trash the system. And there are good hackers, wearing the virtual "white hats," who are hired by corporations to shore up their network security, or who put new software through its paces to test for holes. Then there is Valor, who is a little of both.

Se7en is niether. In the past 3 years (his entire "professional" career), Valor has not engaged in a single penetration, where he was not lead, and acted as little more than an observer.

Of course, Valor isn't the only one chasing child porn traffickers through cyberspace. The FBI, U.S. Customs Service, New York State Attorney General's office and San Jose (Calif.) Police Department are all active in fighting online child porn and pedophilia. To this end, law enforcement agencies have launched sting operations with officers assuming the identities of teenagers intent on meeting older men for sex; or posing as potential child porn consumers.

Even small-town U.S.A. has gotten into the act. Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper, recently reported that police in New Hampshire have lured and arrested more than 60 men from Scandinavia suspected of coming to the U.S. for what they assumed would be sexual rendezvous with children.

Valor isn't even the only hacker to target online child porn. So does the group Ethical Hackers Against Pedophilia (EHAP), but it claims not to stray outside the law. Instead, members turn suspects in to the police or to federal or international law enforcement agencies.

Valor, on the other hand, is only too happy to break the law if it means snuffing out a computer used to store child porn pictures. For twenty-eight-year-old Valor, it is his "personal crusade."

It is a crusade for the last year, and began after EHAP and HACP. Both groups were formed around this idea, and EHAP remains.

"I hate child porn on the Internet and I'm one of the few people willing and able to do something about it," Valor says. "To those who say I have restricted free speech, I say it's better that I attack pedophiles than the government stepping in to clean up the Internet. Then we all would suffer."

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