Strength in numbers: joining forces to create a safer society

Strength in numbers: joining forces to create a safer society
21 April, 2016 Anna Borgström
In NetClean Labs

Strength in numbers: joining forces to create a safer society

In the world of child sexual abuse, the waters are always muddied. With new methods of criminal activity arising and a vast array of technological advances to thwart them, it’s a field that is always evolving.

Unfortunately, as the volume of child sexual abuse (CSA) reports grow exponentially, the reverse happens for the number of staff able to manage, review and act upon them. At risk of waning government support and resource, the only way law enforcers can improve their management of cases is to enlist the help of others.

Now more than ever before, illicit material is creeping into every avenue of day to day life. Just weeks ago reports indicatedthe unpleasant experiences children have had online due to exposure to shocking material via social networking sites. To support this, our NetClean report indicated that there is more sexual abuse material being circulated than ever before.

And just as a myriad of new cases and instances of exploitation arise, so do the volume of ways to prevent and protect against them. Be it through technology, research or training. When it comes to tackling CSA on a global scale, collaboration is a critical success factor.

Joining forces

The Virtual Global Taskforce is an organisation that understands the importance of this collaboration and was set up to champion the common processes, procedures and technologies used to safeguard against online exploitation. It works with a vast array of partners from the likes of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and law enforcement agencies including Interpol, Europol and Homeland Security.

Last week it called on its partners, including Griffeye and NetClean to discuss how we move forward as a collective group and work towards common aims that will help us create a safer society. The event gave us a great opportunity to create a forum for debate and a platform to nurture a much better functioning ecosystem to draw on for support. Being able to share best practice, present on our successes and discuss how, together, we can overcome the challenges we face in handling CSA is critically important to our industry. It also goes a long way to ensuring that our children are protected and perpetrators kept at bay.

After all, globally we can recognise that our advances in effective defence vary. While some regions have government buy-in and benefit from the support of dedicated resource to assist in investigations and train staff on criminal activity, this is not widespread. Ultimately the key area we identified was that law enforcement agencies don’t always have the resources needed to manage and prioritise the evidence and reports they have at their disposal. This means that labour intensive processes are draining time and money away from any efforts to stop further abuse from happening.

Tech for good

At both Griffeye and NetClean we believe that we can use technology for good by educating our partners and industry counterparts on the value it can have in supporting time and cash poor organisations tackle the horrific and abundant crimes we’re continuing to see. At the VGT meeting we heard a number of stories which detailed the growth in use of mobile devices in circulating illegal images and videos online.

As we move further into 2016 and attend our next VGT event in November, we hope to continue supporting and collaborating with teams across the globe to fight against child sexual exploitation online by helping them to see how intelligent technologies can be used to block this activity and help identify the perpetrators.

Find out how you can get your organisation involved in stopping the spread of CSA content online here.