"It’s not just one paywall. It’s a paywall for each and every contributor."

All Access

Police say they need free access to OnlyFans — to solve crimes, of course.

Investigators are warning that the UK-based platform, which is primarily used by sex workers, may be underreporting the amount of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the site, Reuters reports. Basically, they say that the individual paywalls that creators use to rake in cash are impeding their efforts to get a more accurate picture of the situation.

"It’s not just one paywall," Magnet Forensics director of forensic consultants Trey Amick told Reuters. "It’s a paywall for each and every contributor. Beyond that, it’s extremely difficult to acquire content that’s hosted behind the paywalls of OnlyFans."

"It’s really hard to know specifically or exactly how much is on there," Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative child exploitation investigator Matt Richardson told Reuters in a separate investigation.

Paywall Protection

The news agency found that out of the 30 cases it reviewed involving CSAM on OnlyFans, over half resulted in arrests and three ended in criminal convictions.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), a nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, has "full access," according to an OnlyFans spokesperson. The company also willfully provides police with most data, including content and direct messages.

However, that only goes for accounts that are under active investigation. Any other unflagged accounts will remain paywalled, Reuters found. It's an intractable conundrum. On the one hand, it's crucial to protect kids from being exploited. On the other, giving law enforcement carte blanche access to a site where users pay for lascivious content poses clear issues for privacy — and whether cops would use the access for strictly professional purposes is anyone's guess.

"OnlyFans is proud of the work we do to aggressively target, report, and support the investigations and prosecutions of anyone who seeks to abuse our platform in this way," a spokesperson told Ars Technica. "Unlike many other platforms, the lack of anonymity and absence of end-to-end encryption on OnlyFans means that reports are actionable by law enforcement and prosecutors."

A 2021 report by the BBC found that teenagers were using fake IDs to set up accounts on OnlyFans, with 102 Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives calling for a probe into child exploitation on the platform.

But whether the Justice Department is actively investigating remains unclear, as Reuters reports.

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