Child porn site creator jailed after 'unprecedented' worldwide investigation

child pornography united states fbi
(Getty)

The mastermind behind possibly the world's biggest child porn site has been jailed for 30 years after a globe-spanning investigation.

The founder of 'Playpen', 58-year-old Florida man Steven Chase, created the website in 2014 on the Tor network to allow users to communicate anonymously through "hidden service" sites, the FBI says.

But the FBI's investigation wasn't just confined to the continental US - it took them to a number of other countries including Israel, Turkey, Peru, Malaysia, Chile and Ukraine.

New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs was also brought in to help.

In all, 548 international arrests were made as well 350 people prosecuted in the US. That's on top of 25 US-based child porn producers and 51 US-based child abusers who were also charged.

The investigation was able to identify or rescue 55 children in the US, with 296 sexually abused children identified or rescued around the world.

The FBI says Chase ran the site which allowed members to view and upload tens of thousands of posts of young victims, categorised by age, sex and the type of sexual activity involved.

The investigation into the site led to thousands of offshoot inquiries, making the size and scope of the task "unprecedented", an FBI spokesperson says.

Authorities were alerted to the Playpen site shortly after it launched but admitted there was "not much we could do about it" given the secretive nature of the Tor network.

But a small mistake by Chase became his undoing. In December 2014, Chase accidentally revealed Playpen's unique IP address which was based in the US. It was first noticed by an international law enforcement agency, which told the FBI.

Special Agent Dan Alfin, who headed the case as part of the FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children section, said the team followed their normal investigative steps - such as seizing a copy of the website and issuing search warrants for email addresses.

"Everything led back to Steven Chase."

He was sentenced on Monday (local time) in North Carolina. It follows the sentencing of Chase's co-accused Michael Fluckiger, 46, and David Browning, 47, who were each sentenced to 20 years in jail earlier this year.

Newshub.