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German child porn ring busted

22m credit cards checked

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German police have arrested over 300 people in ten different states after detectives analysed credit card transactions from 22m customers.

The 322 suspects paid $79.99 for 20-day access to a child porn website in the Philippines, according to Saxony-Anhalt state Interior Minister Holger Hoevelmann.

German data privacy laws do not allow the police to run a broad database search, so in this case they narrowed it down to one specific receiver account.

The police didn't even have access to the data itself, the credit companies carried out all of the matching. During several raids, photographs, videotapes and computers were confiscated as evidence.

The operation dubbed Mikado is the biggest of its kind with 14 credit card companies participating voluntarily. A similar operation in the UK, Operation Ore, included the details of 7,000 individuals.

Scrutinising all transactions of all credit cards on a nationwide scale may be a completely novel approach, but it is also highly questionable, the head of the German lawyers association DAV told the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger newspaper.

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