CHARACTERISTICS AND BEHAVIORS OF ANONYMOUS USERS OF DARK WEB PLATFORMS SUSPECTED OF CHILD SEXUAL OFFENSES

Jessica Woodhams, Juliane Kloess, Bren Jose, Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

International law enforcement have noted a rise in the use of the Dark Web to facilitateand commit sexual offenses against children, both prior to and since the start of theCOVID-19 pandemic. The study presented here therefore aimed to investigate thecharacteristics and behaviors of anonymous users of Dark Web platforms who weresuspected of engaging in the sexual abuse of children. Naturally-occurring data on53 anonymous suspects, who were active on the Dark Web and had come to policeattention in the United Kingdom (UK), were sampled. Analysis of the data yielded 462features that could be coded reliably. Analysis of these features provided novel insightsinto suspects’ characteristics, their motivations for using the Dark Web, the nature of theoffending behavior they reported engaging in, their technical and security precautions,sexual interests, and the content of their interactions with one another. Findings arediscussed in relation to theoretical and practical implications, as well as directions forfuture research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number623668
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2021

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