Manager of Darknet Child Pornography Website Sentenced to 20 Years

In the sting, 51 suspects were arrested and 55 children were rescued
February 9, 2017 Updated: February 9, 2017
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The manager of a darknet child pornography website was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to reports this week.

David Lynn Browning, 47, of Kentucky, will also serve a lifetime of post-prison supervision after his prison term ends. He was the manager of the Tor-obfuscated website Playpen.

According to the Department of Justice’s website, he managed “a highly sophisticated, global child exploitation enterprise dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children.”

It added: “According to admissions made in connection with the plea, Browning acted as the global moderator of a highly-sophisticated global enterprise dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children, organized via a members-only website that operated on the Tor anonymity network, through which he and more than 150,000 other members authored and viewed tens of thousands of postings relating to sexual abuse of children as young as infants and toddlers.”

Browning was involved in the day-to-day operations of the site, which includes managing the membership and “enforcing strict rules” while deleting content that didn’t “depict or discuss child pornography,” the DOJ said.

“Browning also admitted to spending hundreds of hours logged in to the website—authoring more than 1,000 postings, and designing the website logo,” it added.

The lead administration of Playpen, Steven W. Chase, 57, of Naples, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury on child exploitation charges. He hasn’t yet been sentenced. Meanwhile, an Indiana man, 46-year-old Michael Fluckinger, was sentenced two weeks ago to 20 years in prison for being involved.

“As a result of the ongoing investigation, at least 51 alleged hands-on abusers have been prosecuted and 55 American children who were subjected to sexual abuse have been successfully identified or rescued,” the DOJ said.

The FBI seized the site’s server in 2015.

Playpen hosted some 215,000 user accounts and distributed some 50,000 images and videos.