Childs Play (website)

Last updated
Childs Play
Childs Play censored screenshot.jpg
Type of site
Child pornography sharing
Available in English
LaunchedApril 2016
Current statusOffline (as of September 2017)

Childs Play was a darknet child abuse website that operated from April 2016 to September 2017, which at its peak was the largest of its class. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] The site was concealed by being run as a hidden service on the Tor network. After running the site for the first six months, owner Benjamin Faulkner of Guelph, Ontario, Canada was captured by the United States Department of Homeland Security. For the remaining eleven months the website was owned and operated by the Australian Queensland Police Service's Task Force Argos, as part of Operation Artemis.



The website was run by Australian police for 11 months, and involved impersonation of the forum owner WarHead (Faulkner's alias) which required police to regularly post child abuse images, in order to convince users that the site was not compromised. [1] [4] [6] Ivar Stokkereit, a legal adviser to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Norway, stated this was "a clear violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, even though the police’s intention is to prevent new offenses in the long run". Amnesty International also criticized the actions as "unacceptable under human rights law". ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) supported the proactive approach taken by Task Force Argos. [6]

James Sheptycki, professor in criminology at York University, criticized the transfer of the website from its original server in Europe to Australia as "jurisdiction shopping", being done due to the favourable legal framework in Australia that would allow the website to continue running in this way. [7]


The capture of the site, and its subsequent use to gather information, has led to arrests and convictions:

Media portrayals

In November 2019 the Canadian network CBC in collaboration with Norwegian VG (Verdens Gang) published a six-part podcast [11] [12] [13] called Hunting Warhead, chronicling the investigation by VG journalist Håkon Høydal and a Norwegian computer security expert of child sexual abuse networks on the dark web. In the course of the six episodes, CBC journalist Daemon Fairless examines the background of Benjamin Faulkner and the course of events that led to his capture.

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  2. 1 2 Brad Hunter (2017-10-12). "Canadian man was king of kiddie porn". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  3. C. Aliens (October 16, 2017). "Task Force Argos Operated a Darknet Child Abuse Forum for 11 Months". DeepDotWeb . Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
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  5. McInnes, William (2017-10-08). "Queensland police take over world's largest child porn forum in sting operation". Brisbane Times . Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  6. 1 2 Maria Knoph Vigsnæs, Håkon F. Høydal, Einar Otto Stangvik, and Natalie Remøe Hansen. "UNICEF: – Clear violation of UN children's convention". Verdens Gang . Retrieved 2018-01-23.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Håkon F. Høydal, Einar Otto Stangvik, and Natalie Remøe Hansen. "– Police acting as judges". Verdens Gang . Retrieved 2018-01-23.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. 1 2 "Four Men Sentenced to Prison for Engaging in a Child Exploitation Enterprise on the Tor Network". United States Department of Justice . 12 August 2019.
  9. Dustin Godfrey and Kristi Patton (2018-01-09). "Child exploitation forum moderator in Penticton sentenced to five years - Kelowna Capital News". Kelowna Capital News. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  10. Cormack, Lucy (2017-11-24). "Former private school science teacher sentenced over child exploitation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  11. "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". Retrieved 2020-04-13.Cite uses generic title (help)
  12. "Hunting Warhead - a CBC/VG podcast".
  13. "Hunting Warhead - CBC News".