The FBI Ran A Child Porn Site for Two Whole Weeks

Last November, the FBI raided a bulletin board-style site that was known to be a home of child pornography. But rather than shutting it down, it decided to keep it running and see just how many users it could identify.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that FBI agents posed as child porn dealers, actively distributing pornography while the site was under their control -- just as other agencies perform sting operations with drugs and prostitution.

It's not yet clear if the technique worked that well: in the two-week period, the FBI attempted to identify 5600 users who had shared over 10,000 images of children, but it's only known that one suspect's computers have been seized so far. Still, it might be too early to judge. The investigation is still apparently in its early stages. While nobody has yet been prosecuted, charges are believed to be forthcoming.

What can be judged is the ethical position of distributing child pornography to incriminate suspects. Is it worse than supplying drugs in a sting? Or is it fair game given the end result? What do you think? [San Francisco Chronicle via The Verge]

Picture: Oleksiy & Tetyana/Flickr