Anime reverse image search site gets taken offline due to Canadian Anti-CSEM organization

So one of the sites I use frequently for anime artwork finding purposes got taken offline because a Canadian anti-child abuse organization used it to reverse image search CSEM images, then reported the site for temporarily hosting CSEM, even though it was because of their badly coded crawler searching for it.

This post will hopefully make the situation a bit clearer for everyone. Most of this info has been posted in one place or another already, but I will attempt to consolidate the important bits as I recall them. I have effectively zero visibility into the operation of or Project Arachnid (their crawler), so this is based on what I can tell from my end. I have not used this blog in many years, but it’s the easiest way I can publish this info now.

To start with, I do not believe they are acting maliciously, and they do not seem to be intentionally using the site to search for images. They are just following links. Dangerous links which spread CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material), links which they should be smart enough not to follow, but ultimately, still, just following links. From what I understand, these links primarily come from image boards and such which helpfully add them next to all posted images. This is great for users, as the links allow for quick and easy source lookups of interesting images as you come across them:

The current situation started in the afternoon on the 31st of March when our host received the first CSAM notification and promptly sent it over to us for review. At the time, I was traveling, and not online as often as usual so the report went unnoticed. Around the same time, the host of - another anime reverse image search engine - also started receiving similar notices. Likewise, they forwarded them to the site’s operator, but unfortunately the emails wound up in spam and were not immediately noticed. More reports continued coming in over the course of the afternoon and night. I finally noticed them in my email when I came back online later that night.


Reminds me of when antis send CSAM to MAPs so they can report them for possessing CSAM.

Hopefully it can be resolved as it seems completely unintentional, an accidental side effect of bad code and a lack of human judgement.

That might not be the case, sadly.

(Xamayon) piespy heard yesterday that OVH has handed the server over to the abuse investigation team, and that support can’t help him anymore. That makes me think it’ll probably stay offline for a while.

(Xamayon) reading online, servers that go that route rarely ever get re-enabled, and even getting data off is unlikely.

Apparently there’s a backup of the code, though. So it’d have to be a fresh start.


This is absurd… Absolutely absurd!!

Even assuming they had a legitimate interest in pursuing artwork, the fact that they went after the site for how it was being used is unfathomably senseless!
They might as well be targeting search engines too, since they employ web crawlers which cache images, thumbnails, website snapshots and other information with the logic employed here.

The idea that CSAM hotlines in some countries are targeting material or activities that are not actual child pornography or in some way tangentially related to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children is so beyond the realm of reason that they might as well just not exist.
Not even the American NCMEC’s Cybertipline targets fictional material, nor does it include it in its hash database of CSAM.
They even specifically outline what type of material is to be reported via the Cybertipline by citing the governing statutes.

I can only imagine how useless and ineffectual the Canadian cybertipline must be if they have analysts going after material which isn’t CP or exploitation related. Anybody with a drawing tablet and a computer can create this material. It’s so prolific and widespread online that targeting it would be a losing battle for anybody who dared try.

This entire ordeal is very stressful to read about and is extremely disappointing. I’m not even shocked.
Hopefully another group of admins and operators who live in a better, more reasonable jurisdiction can take over and run the site as it was before.

The moment you make it about the idea of abuse, rather than limiting the focus instances of or the likely prospect of abuse, it has officially lost its meaning and efficacy.

There’s a very real and well-understood difference between a visual depiction that is the product of a heinous and intolerable crime and one that is not.
Photographs, videos, etc. that are of the rape and sexual exploitation of actual, living, breathing children would not exist had the abuse not taken place. They are intrinsically related to said abuse, and their existence and circulation are indicative of a demand for said abuse. A market that thrives on the suffering and exploitation of real, child victims is intolerable, hence why a global effort exists to eradicate it.
Artistic visual depictions and representations of such things can and do exist without such a crime ever being committed. No heinous acts are needed. No child is abducted, coerced, abused, or even involved in any way. Fictional characters who do not exist are the product of human creativity and imagination. They are products of speech. They do not incite, encourage, or have any relationship with actual instances of abuse, they are merely ideas, and to punish the formulation and expression of such ideas is to wage an unwinnable, senseless war not against a tough but defeatable enemy, but one against the human mind and consciousness. If history is a good teacher, then it overwhelmingly proves that attempts to restrain those two things are best avoided.

To irresponsibly and foolishly blur the line between these two seemingly similar, but very distinct objects is to undermine and invalidate the noble and legitimate interest of the former. If the objective is to protect real children from child sexual abuse or exploitation, then any and all actions taken must be limited to the prospect of real child sex abuse.

This would be like going after a musician or songwriter for writing a song about suicide and depression because it’s illegal and immoral to take one’s own life, or out of fear that it could motivate a depressed listener to take their own life.

My heart weeps for the children whose suffering and abuse are unnecessarily prolonged by the pursuit of content that is not the product of child sexual exploitation, as well as the creators and consumers of such content.
If I believed in a god, I would pray for them.


I think it’s more a case of somebody uploads CP to 4chan (or whatever), the bot clicks on the “reverse search this image on iqdb” link. (Or rough approximation.)

As a result, iqdb searches for the image - which in this case is CP - and it gets cached on the server temporarily.

Then the organization targets the website because of their stupid oversight in being unable to code a crawler correctly.

I doubt that. To me, at least, it’s inconceivable that Saucenao or iqdb would link to something like that since CP isn’t even anime-related,
unless these tools also function as general image querying services like TinEye or Google image search.

I know you cited 4chan just as an example, but i just want to point out that 4chan works actively with the NCMEC to report illegal content and uses Microsoft’s PhotoDNA, which to my knowledge, works exclusively with US authorities to scan media if it’s CSAM/CP (which uses real children). If somebody tries to upload CP to 4chan, the site will immediately scan it and deny it, followed by an immediate user ban and an automated Cybertipline report containing the IP address, image content, and post content of the uploader.
They use it on all boards including /b/ - the “Random” board - which is the only board that explicitly allows lolicon and shotacon pornography to be posted.

Occasionally actual CP which isn’t hash logged will get posted, but it’s always gone within the first 10 seconds to 5 minutes of being posted, usually thanks to user reports and swift moderator action.

I believe it’s possible to search for images on iqdb without actually uploading them, just cURLing the URL of something.

I can’t check this though, since the site is down.

yeah, it did have that function, but what would it compare it to?
Like I said previously, they were primarily anime and manga oriented services, so they’d naturally restrict their queries to sources and databases of that specific nature, whether it’s a manga archive or an artwork repository. If somebody tried to query something that they couldn’t index, it would just say “no results found”.

It’s unfortunate that these services had to both be based out of Canada.

I don’t believe it’s trying to compare it to anything.

Crawler sees link->Crawler activates link thinking it’s just another webpage.

Web search services like Google, Bing, etc. will use web crawlers to scan, cache and index websites by working directly with domain registrars and webmasters.
Unless SauceNao and iqdb were indexing more than just anime/manga related content and artwork, I doubt anything involving real children would come up.

This is why I suspect the Canadian authorities and their cybertipline of foul play, because in the email screenshot, they specifically describe what can only amount to actual CP. But according to Canadian authorities, ideas may equate to actual abuse in this context so that’s how they operate - illogically.


I’m just concerned that it may not be actual CP that their “arachnid” bot may be querying, but harmless art and anime content because, like I said previously, Canadian law sees fiction as real abuse, despite the fact that it’s not.

Why else would somebody tell a web crawler to literally upload and spread actual CP onto a specific website, unless it’s designed to be autonomously adaptive with however SauceNao and iqdb are designed.
But even then - I feel as though it should be monitored by actual humans who can tell it to stop since it’s apparently designed to query by uploading content and responding when it phones home with positive results.

And even then - what the hell? You mean to tell me that a web crawler is querying websites for CSAM by uploading actual CSAM?? I suppose that’s one way of finding it, but if the prerogative here is to find it so it can be eradicated, why also risk spreading it even more? Even weirder - why deliberately upload it to a querying service then target the querying service for temporarily retaining the image it uploaded???

I’m torn on this. I’m not saying I don’t believe that the Canadian government or whatever is doing this or that the operator is lying, I 100% believe them. After all, the Australian government allowed a CP trading hub to remain online for months after they had assumed control of it, presumably because they felt as though using it as a trap to catch more criminals justifies directly participating in child sexual exploitation. This “ends justifies the means” approach

I just want to know how the Canadians see this. I could believe that this is the result of a bug in the bot and that the emails it’s sending out to hosts and webmasters are simply automated, and the Canadians just want to save face by not addressing it on social media and risk looking like ineffectual, incompetent morons.
But I also do know that the Canadian government doesn’t differentiate between real CP/CSAM and victimless fictional artwork and that maybe they’re just treating it as such.

What do you think, @terminus ?

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Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.


Please tell me this doesn’t actually happen…

You mean to tell me that they’re seriously oblivious to the fact that they’re knowingly participating in the sexual exploitation of children by weaponizing CSAM to criminally implicate MAPs and outspoken pedophiles??
Are they doing anything wrong? Are they actively looking for illegal CSAM? Are they behaving inappropriately or harmfully towards minors?

I suppose anything is possible when you’re dumb enough to conflate fictional characters with real life people.
If this is seriously happening, then it just shows how dangerous and poisonous this mentality is.

Child pornography laws are built around by an interest in the safety and well-being of children and justified by the factual, objective reality behind its creation and existence, and not because CP is immoral, gross, offensive, or makes people feel uncomfortable or icky.

Conflating empathy with disgust or offense is a prime example of why banning/censoring fiction is actually harmful, and in part, a pretty convincing demonstration on why preserving the freedom of speech in its most absolute form is a necessity for a free, rational, and effective society to function and prosper.

Sigh… at some points, I’m not really sure if I can. Ignorance is often the root of malice that I often forget to even consider the motivating factor behind most things.

Stupid peasants often burned witches, even without being agitated by the Church. Doesn’t mean that one should hesitate to mow down said peasants to rescue said witch.

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Wish I could, I really do. Happens less now to my knowledge but back on Tumblr it happened a lot. Fortunately only happened to me once.

Absolutely. The mentality of many antis is that something is CSAM because a paedophile can get off to it, not because a child was abused to create it.


That’s because they want to depress us into suicide.


It seems as though SauceNao is back online, however, when I check iqdb it still seems to be offline.

This is quite unfortunate.

The site’s back up now.

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