Collaboration and innovative technology make real change – #skillnadpåriktigt 2017
Our third annual conference #skillnadpåriktigt, which means ‘making a real difference’, was recently held in Stockholm. This year NetClean arranged it together with ECPAT Sweden, who lent their expert knowledge of child sexual abuse and trafficking to the event. I’m proud to say that it was a successful event with renowned speakers and an engaged audience.
#skillnadpåriktigt is unique in that it brings together policy makers, industry, NGOs, the police and other invested parties that work to stop child sexual abuse. The conference is important because it highlights that no one sector can fight this problem alone. It provides a forum for networking and sharing ideas for organisations that would normally not engage in this debate together. It also underscores that organisations can put aside professional rivalry and competition and work together to fight this global problem. NetClean shared a stage with several organisations, which all contributed to a nuanced and useful debate.
NetClean: Like cog-wheels we need to work together
During NetClean’s presentation I spoke on a number of issues, and illustrated how, like cog wheels, all sectors need to work together to break the chain of abuse and systematically fight child sexual abuse. The parts that made up the cog wheel, consisted of, to name a few, police, policy and lawmakers, industry, and technology. The latter being key, as we frequently see that collaboration is driven by effective technology. The fact that dissemination of material happens online means that it can be fought and tracked with the help of technology. It gives us hope that we can halt this type of crime, and it also gives many sectors something tangible to work towards.
Europol: Examples of successful operations and initiatives
Many of our speakers shared the success that they have had by focusing on collaboration and technology. Steven Wilson from Europol shared the success of ‘Trace an object’ where Europol has highlighted objects found in child sexual abuse material. These objects, innocuous things like books, plug sockets etc, are shared with the public so that they can help identify where objects are sold or can be used. This has greatly helped Europol narrow down the origin of the child sexual abuse material. Wilson also spoke about Operation Tantalio which included Interpol, Europol and several different jurisdictions that helped target distribution of material on WhatsApp and the Darknet. The collaboration has so far led to almost forty arrests and has destroyed many groups on WhatsApp that dealt in illicit material.
RCMP: Hackathons and increased number of identified victims
Arnold Guerin from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police spoke about how collaboration and technology increased the numbers of identified victims and how private industry partnerships are essential to fight online child sexual abuse. Guerin spoke about the Hackathon recently held by Interpol Devops Group together with Interpol, Europol, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The purpose of the group is to develop software to combat child sexual exploitation. The outcome of the most recent event was a new tool that uses Machine Learning to triage child sexual exploitation material to help police to quickly identify content that is most important to find new child victims.
Volvo: importance of collaboration with law enforcement
The positive note and examples of breakthroughs in cases brought by law enforcement was also echoed by industry. Notably by Volvo who spoke at the annual conference. As a global company they have installed technology on their computers and networks across the world. The lesson that the company is quickly learning is that the business cannot act alone when it finds child sexual abuse material. They must work together with law enforcement in the local area. It is important for business that the jurisdiction where they operate takes the problem seriously, as an invested police force will help both the victims of sexual abuse, and also ensure that adequate actions can be taken when illegal material is found on the companies’ computers or network.
ECPAT Sweden: Testament to improved collaboration
Bringing further insight to the importance of collaboration across industries, our co-organisers of #skillnadpåriktigt, ECPAT Sweden, presented their recent report that shows that the number of tip-offs to their hotline has trebled in the last three years. This is a testament to improved collaboration and awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse. They also spoke about how their increased collaboration with Interpol ensures that more perpetrators are prosecuted and more children saved.
#skillnadpåriktigt 2017 was a big success, and I am grateful to our co-organisers ECPAT Sweden, to Radisson Waterfront Stockholm who hosted the event, and to all the speakers who shared the successes and progress that we are making. I also want to thank the NetClean team for all the effort they put in before and during the conference. It takes a team. I look forward to a continued open and constructive dialogue in the future.
If you want to read more about what happened during the conference, also read ECPAT’s blog (in Swedish) http://www.ecpat.se/blogg/2017/10/23/skillnad-pa-riktigt-kan-vi-bara-goera-tillsammans