NRW Justice Minister Biesenbach speaks of a “swamp”: Investigators in NRW have information on over 30,000 suspects for child pornography and abuse.
By Christian Wolf
The abuse cases of Lügde, Bergisch Gladbach and Münster caused horror. But now further details come to light that show how much bigger the problem actually is.
Investigators in NRW have new evidence of 30,000 possible suspects. NRW Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach (CDU) announced this on Monday (June 29, 2020). These are international networks with a focus on German-speaking countries.
The traces come from the investigation into the nationwide abuse complex Bergisch Gladbach, in which the suspects sometimes have their own children misused and exchanged pictures of the deeds.
So far only anonymous users
According to Biesenbach, the 30,000 suspects are still unknown persons because they were anonymous in chat groups and forums. Experts from the Cybercrime Central and Contact Point (ZAC NRW) would now take care of finding out the people behind the pseudonyms.
Justice Minister: “I feel sick”
Biesenbach spoke of a “swamp” that the investigators had come across. “I wasn’t expecting the remoteness of the extent of child abuse online.” It was a “new dimension of the crime,” said the Minister of Justice and confessed that he had “become sick”.
In addition to distributing photos and videos, public and secret groups also exchange advice on abuse – such as what sedatives should be given to children. In addition, people who have not yet committed abuse and are reluctant would be encouraged or even pushed by others.
It is precisely this communication in the forums that Chief Prosecutor Markus Hartmann from ZAC NRW sees as a problem. The perpetrators found a “huge group of like-minded people” there and found child abuse to be “normal”. It is feared that in such an atmosphere the inhibition threshold will drop and men will commit acts of abuse that would otherwise have shrunk from it.
Data retention could help
A “task force” of cyber investigators is now to evaluate the 30,000 traces. According to Hartmann, the first step is to provide concrete evidence of child abuse – to stop acts that are still ongoing.
All permitted technical possibilities would be used. But the investigators wanted more. Hartmann referred to “narrow limits”. Internet providers would still have to delete users’ IP addresses after a few days. But this is exactly what the anonymous perpetrators could be partially identified.
Justice Minister Biesenbach was therefore open to discussing data retention again. Critics would then have to decide: “Data protection even with the child abuse or are we really serious about child abuse?”