Crypto Jun 30, 2020

South Korea Develops Software to Monitor Darknet Crypto Transactions

South Korea plans to create a software that will be used to monitor crypto-enabled…

The Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) is set to establish an artificial-based software to be used in monitoring crypto-related activities in the dark web.

Reportedly, the South Korean government has chosen this path in response to the series of high profile cases involving dark web scandals that instigated media frenzies and public turns out that authorities have been burning the midnight oil since January 2020 in search of a lasting solution to the darknet menace.

The KISA has intimated that the planned software will use machine-learning techniques, which will encompass automatic dark web scans to target South Korean platforms that support cryptocurrency transactions. It is expected that the software will effectively enable the government to curb crypto-supported darknet crime.

In terms of product development, the government agency says that a pilot phase is expected for conducting tests on the software by the year 2022.

Software Inspired by the Landmark Nth Room Scandal

Mainly, the planned darknet monitoring software is said to have been considered following the widely-publicized “Nth Room case”, which involved blackmail, cybersex trafficking and the distribution of child sex abuse material over Telegram between 2018 and 2020.

As reported by South Korean media, online users parted with between $200 and $1,200 to gain access to “nth rooms” where child sex material would be uploaded. Chatroom operators were said to have engaged in blackmail in which underage victims would be targeted through fake promises of modelling and escort jobs.

Currently, the mastermind of the Nth room scandal, Cho Joo-bin, has been apprehended although investigations to the case have been significantly affected by the Nth room’s extensive use of cryptocurrency transactions – Monero (XMR) was largely used by the child sex abuse ring to uphold the transactional anonymity between chatroom operators and their customers.

Hitherto, the South Korean government has observed, with great concern, the rise in crypto-related darknet transactions within the country – with figures showing a 1.5 percent increase in trading volume as compared to 2018 stats.

According to KISA, expert estimations predict that by the year 2023, the South Korean government will invest about $4.9 million in the creation of technologies to track cryptocurrency fraud.

The South Korean Contrast on Child Sex Abuse Law Enforcement

In October 2019, authorities in South Korea, The United States and the United Kingdom announced the dismantling of a giant child sex abuse site, and the arrest of 300 people, through an investigation where law enforcement agencies traced Bitcoin transactions.

The website involved, Welcome to Video, was hosted on the dark web and had successfully managed to remain clear of the police radar until authorities shuttered the platform. It turned out that the darknet-hosted child sex abuse site was operated by South Koreans.

Surprisingly, the South Korean mastermind of the site, Jong Woo Son, was served an 18-month jail sentence, while the rest convicted South Korean users of Welcome to Video were merely fined.

Indeed, it can be inferred that child sex abuse websites choose to operate in countries with laxer laws and non-strict dark web monitoring systems for online child exploitation. The South Korean loophole is clear when we focus on the comparison between penalties meted against the producers of child sex abuse material vis-à-vis the penalties for possession.

In the past, we have witnessed about 75 percent of convicted child sex abuse criminals in South Korea being served prison sentences of five years or less while, in contrast, a majority of those convicted of child sex abuse-related crimes in the US have been jailed for 5 years or more.

Otherwise, in conclusion, the planned dark web software can be considered to be a step in the right direction for South Korean law enforcement and justice system.

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