Thousands of paedophiles are using the notorious 'dark web' to access and trade images of sexual abuse, according to a report by BBC News.
The 'dark web' is essentially an encrypted version of the internet which millions used everyday. Accessed through a specially made browser such as Tor (first created by the US military), users of the dark web are theoretically untraceable, leading to various types of nefarious or illegal websites springing up under the protection of anonymity.
The Silk Road, and similar illicit marketplaces, are able to operate openly in this way, often enabled by the similarly untrackable digital currency Bitcoin.
But now concerns are raising among British crime officials that images of child abuse are increasingly finding a 'safe haven' on the dark web.
Britain's National Crime Agency said in 2014 that encrypted sites could be a serious threat to their efforts to track down and break up abuse rings.
Now the BBC has tracked down what it claims is a former webmaster of one of those sites.
While the BBC admitted that there is no way to prove the man's claims, his statistics are staggering - and terrifying.
"We had over 40,000 user accounts on the site. We used to get sometimes 500 page views per second. My own collection is 12 gigabytes," he told the BBC.
"There certainly are more paedophiles coming to the dark net. I don't know if these new users are brand new paedophiles discovering child porn for the first time or if these are people who used to swap on the 'clear net' but found Tor which is much safer."
Another security researcher told the BBC that an analysis of one said found 10,000 users and 2,000 producers of images of child abuse, 20% from the UK.Suggest a correction