OM takes a budgetary approach to resolving the Dutch 'internet drain'
The Public Prosecution Service has opened a criminal investigation into two Dutch businesspeople who hosted child pornography websites and other forms of cybercrime on their servers.
Justice has already spent years attempting in vain to address the supply of access to digital crime. The Public Prosecution Service is now charging the entrepreneurs with financial crimes such as tax evasion.
Bartholomeus Johannes ('Bab') K., a director of hosting company Ecatel in The Hague, and his business associate Reinier van E. are the two suspects. According to the Wormer Chamber of Commerce, they are also involved with DataOne, Reba, Novogara, and FiberXpress. The National Research Council earlier referred to the enterprises as the Internet's drain in an article on a series of failed prosecution attempts against these entrepreneurs.
At the moment, computer and internet regulation provides few guidance on how to address the providing of shelter for and access to sites engaged in drug trafficking, illegal software distribution, and child pornography.
Additionally, this type of bulletproof hosting, dubbed 'bulletproof shelter,' includes difficult-to-trace worldwide branches, making it tough to locate and punish consumers. Often, these clients register using only their email address and pay using cryptocurrency. "With fact, they may operate absolutely anonymously," an officer involved in the inquiry explained. That is why the Public Prosecution Service chose a 'fiscal path' to charge at least "two leaders in criminal hosting."
Here is the link to the research story on Bab K. and Reinier van E.: The internet drain is located in a village in North Holland.
Seven residential and business buildings were raided by the tax investigative service FIOD at the end of September 2020. He took tens of thousands of dollars' worth of bitcoin, 70,000 euros in cash, and five automobiles. As a result, the service was able to ascertain instantly that massive amounts of tax had been evaded. The FIOD and the Functional Public Prosecutor then collaborated for an additional eleven months to compile evidence from the massive volume of digital data.
The FIOD has declined to comment on whether money laundering has been established with tax evasion. A spokeswoman cautions against the possibility that "the attorney would utilize notoriety to fight for a lesser sentence."
In general, he argues, "We do not investigate infractions such as hosting child pornography because the tax authorities are 'amoral.' Tax law, on the other hand, occasionally provides chances to prosecute criminal organizations more rapidly and efficiently than through traditional criminal law."
Hosting providers such as Ecatel frequently dodge jurisdiction in two ways. They establish formal residence in countries that do not prosecute cybercrime or prosecute it ineffectively and register their financial holdings in tax havens such as the Virgin Islands and the Seychelles, where the true owners' identities may be concealed more readily.
Suspect Van E. is mentioned in connection with Quasi Networks in the recently revealed Pandora Papers on tax evasion. The Financial Times reported this week that the hunt for him in 2016 resulted in a raid on Alpha in the Seychelles, a corporation that assists tax evasion. Computers have been seized on suspicion of Van E. being involved in criminal activity. Ecatel has already been found accountable for copyright violations, most notably with regard to photographs of British football matches.
European countries are assiduously pursuing impregnable hosting solutions, with the most high-profile case being against the Dutch Cyberbunker in Germany. For the time being, the legal actions have a slim chance of success. That is why the Dutch police and judiciary are currently focused on a strategy for combating bulletproof hosting via money laundering and terrorist financing charges.
However, investigators claim that it continues to be a significant issue in investigations and prosecutions that they are not permitted to delve at the technical infrastructure used in data centers. According to a thesis by Erik van de Sandt, a researcher at the University of Bristol, Dutch hosters have worked with "for them so-called anonymous Russian-speaking and other resellers of illicit hosting services." He also works there for the Dutch police's High Tech Crime Team.
Michel van Eeten, a professor of cybersecurity at TU Delft, concludes similarly in his cybercrime research: "These firms are extremely difficult to prosecute because to the quick global movement of data, money, registrations, and insufficient legislation."
Due in part to these Dutch investigations, the national police's High Tech Crime Team is leading the international fight against cybercrime, whether or not in partnership with Europol, Interpol, and occasionally the FBI. Van de Sandt is now conducting an investigation into online crime 'in the Caribbean.'
The police and judges are collaborating with the Online Child Abuse Expertise Agency to track down and prosecute Dutch bulletproof hosting companies. Arda Gerkens, the agency's director, is unsure whether this has already resulted in a decrease in the spread of child pornography.
"You witness a lot of dissatisfaction and the relocation of markets and websites that contain child pornography," she did state. When financial law targets bulletproof hosters, it affects all of their commercial activities, including hosting photos of child sexual assault. We could care less whether they are bitten by a dog or a cat, as long as they get bitten."