Predictably, the Internet Watch Foundation, the Internet industry supported tipline, condemns the Internet Combat Group’s methods.
“We have a general brief against illegal activity on the Net and that includes hacking. There are legal ways of dealing with the problem, even if these methods can seem laborious and slow. Hackers may be able to do more damage but they are not as well connected to the police, which is ultimately what matters.”273
Morkhoven, a Belgian anti-pornography vigilante group does not operate on the Internet, but in July 1998 was instrumental in exposing an international Internet child pornography ring. Morkhoven was founded in 1988 to oppose child abuse and police brutality. Currently, they have a membership of 20 to 25 people from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. They are known to use illegal tactics, such as burglary to seize evidence, and have been accused of trying to extort money from perpetrators. One of the leaders, Marcel Vervloesem was convicted of extortion of money from traders in child pornography. 274
In July 1998, when Morkhoven illegally seized 1,000s of computer disks containing child pornography from one flat in Zandvoort, Netherlands, they went to the media, not the police. Members of Morkhoven found the disks while searching the flat of Gerrie Ulrich, a convicted German pedophile, who was murdered by a gang in Italy. Originally, they were looking for information leading to the whereabouts of a German boy who disappeared in 1993, when he was 12 years old, and thought to be under the control of Lothar Glandorf, a German man under investigation for producing child pornography. They had been seen together in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam police were later accused of negligence when they failed to investigate. Claims were later made that the boy died while under torture in the making of a pornographic film. In 1997 Glandorf was sentenced to six years imprisonment for trafficking in human beings and indecency involving minors, but the charges were unrelated to the missing boy. 275
Jan Boeykens, another leader of Morkhoven, said they have no confidence in the police to act in cases of child sexual exploitation. They claim members of the justice system, police and politicians are involved, and therefore, are reluctant to work within the system. Boeykens says the police had information about another child pornography ring in Tamise, a small town in Belgium, since 1991, but only acted on the information recently, when more than 300 videocassettes with child pornography were found in the home of a child molester. 276
After Morkhoven went to the media, instead of the police, with the evidence of the international child pornography ring, the police arrested Marcel Vervloesem for refusing to turn over the evidence. The police also initiated an investigation of the Morkhoven organization. Eventually, the evidence was turned over to police and no charges were filed against members of Morkhoven. 277