in Malaysia, Security & Privacy

The Malaysian Government isn’t watching your porn habits

Recently, there was a poorly written article in The New Straits Times, that suggested the Malaysian Police would know if you were watching porn online.

Let me cut to the chase, the article is shit.

The software in question, aptly named Internet Crime Against Children Child Online Protective Services (ICACCOPS) is used to detect Child Pornography, and Child Pornography only — as the name clearly implies. It is a collaborative effort by Law Enforcement agencies, and is shared with PDRM, probably as a gesture of good will, and also a collaborative effort.

Pornography is perfectly legal in the US, insofar if it’s consensual and does not include minors, there is no way US Law Enforcement agencies are investigating something that is legal in their jurisdiction — it is a waste of effort, and possibly illegal.

From what I pieced together, the system has a list of known Child Pornographic material and uses it to check against what is being shared across a limited number of Peer-2-Peer (P2P) networks. This might surprise you, but your sharing habits on bitTorrent, Ares, and Freenet are all ‘in the clear’, it’s very easy to find out which IP addresses are sharing what.

Hence, the scope isn’t just limited to Child Pornography (good!), but is narrowly focused on P2P networks only. Your general internet surfing habits, even those on PornHub are completely off-bounds to this thing.

How the NST, went from this to “the police will know if you watch Porn” is beyond me.

This was my email to The Malay Mail, who reported on this issue last week:

Hi Anith,

First off, the NST report was sensationalized. It omitted 2 key facts, one that this was focused on child pornography, and two (more importantly) the monitoring was limited to a small set of p2p networks like bit-torrent, Ares and Freenet . ICACCOPS is a system put in place by various authorities to allow for the dissemination of data on p2p users who are sharing child pornography material on these networks.

Nothing in the report or video suggest that the Police are monitoring your regular Internet usage outside of these p2p networks. Your Facebook, twitter, Google, Youtube and all other Internet traffic is still very much private.

P2P networks aren’t anonymous, the music and movie industry regularly threaten legal action against people who share copyrighted material on these networks. It’s easy to find which IP addresses are uploading the latest movies or sharing child pornography, it’s not easy trying to tie an IP address to individual — it should not be automatically assumed that everything flowing from an IP address belongs to the individual subscriber who owns the account, as IP addresses are shared.

In my opinion, information sharing on ICACCOPS, between Law Enforcement Agencies, on the data of P2P networks, targeting the distribution of child pornography, is a very good thing. And if the Police are using it as a starting point for investigations (as the report suggests), that should also be applauded. That’s all I see in this report, and it all looks perfectly fine, nothing to be alarmed about, The NST should be more responsible.

However, as child pornography starts to move to the DarkWeb outside of these P2P networks, this piece of technology will lose it’s efficacy over time, but as the video shows, there’s still a lot of child pornography being shared on these networks and authorities should act.

I don’t want to answer you specific questions, because they assume the authorities are monitoring the network — that may be true, but it’s not in the context of this story. The story should be what is above, to reduce the sensationalism that’s floating around.

More context:
www.teorieib.cz/pbi/files/103-Erdely_ICAC%20Cops%20P2P.pptx
http://www.iacpcybercenter.org/training_conferences/bittorrent-investigations/
https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/global-alliance-against-child-abuse/docs/reports-2014/ga_report_2014_-_united_states_en.pdf
https://www.icaccops.com/users/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fusers

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