NPA: 2channel ‘facilitating’ drug trafficking

Site ignored 97% of requests to delete dubious posts

Kyodo

Japan’s biggest Internet bulletin board service, 2channel, failed to act on 97 percent of official requests that it delete dubious or illicit postings last year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The Internet Hotline Center, set up by the agency to monitor illicit Web activity and ask site administrators to remove such posts, issued 5,223 requests to 2channel last year, of which 5,068, or around 97 percent, were not complied with.

Most of the dubious messages involved trade in amphetamines and other drugs, while others could result in banking and mobile phone fraud, an agency official said, warning unless 2channel removes them they “could lead to serious crimes.”

The center sent out 5,381 deletion requests to various site administrators last year, meaning 2channel accounted for the vast majority.

“With such posts left on its bulletin board, the site is indirectly facilitating the creation of an environment in which drugs can easily be traded,” the NPA official said.

The site has its own internal guidelines on deleting posts, such as those it deems slanderous. Other messages are removed following court orders.

However, 2channel has never disclosed its criteria for deleting posts that may involve trade in illegal narcotics and that often use special code to trade drugs, such as “shiro” (white) for amphetamines and “yasai” (vegetable) for marijuana.

On its website, 2channel states that it has an internal team of authorized volunteers that removes posts, and that it also accepts external deletion requests through its site or via email.

But an NPA official said it is unclear whether the service provider’s system is working correctly.

“We don’t believe all of 2channel is bad,” the official said. “But there may be blind spots. We just want them to make improvements.”

Not all posters get off scot-free, however.

In November, police in Kanagawa and Kagawa prefectures arrested 11 people for allegedly soliciting amphetamine buyers via 2channel, in violation of the Stimulants Control Law. The suspects are thought to have pocketed around ¥40 million by selling the drugs to some 1,000 clients since last May.

The center received 182,757 reports of alleged illicit online activity from the public in 2011, of which a record 36,573 concerned suspected drug dealing.

The number of 2channel users and the forum’s importance have soared since it was founded in 1999 by Hiroyuki Nishimura, who was studying in Arkansas at the time.

The authorities and businesses monitor the site’s hundreds of boards and thousands of threads — spanning a vast array of fields and topics — to pick up on everything from the latest fashion and technological trends to anonymous tips on murder threats.

Its scope and influence have on occasion propelled it into the realm of bullying, with angry users ganging up and hacking or crashing other websites.