Steven Wilson, Europol: “There has been significant improvement”

Steven Wilson, Europol: “There has been significant improvement”
7 March, 2018 Guest Writer

Part one in “The cog-wheel” article series from the NetClean Report 2017. The series consists of interviews with representatives from different parts of society, chosen to represent their sector and highlight the work that their part, their “cog”, is doing to tackle child sexual abuse. 

“There has been significant improvement”

By Steven Wilson, Head of European Cybercrime Centre, Europol, representing Law Enforcement

The problem of child sexual exploitation needs to be tackled on a global level. If we try to tackle it on a national level we will only have partial success. As a pan-European organisation, Europol has a position that enables a larger overview than a more limited national perspective.

We can make strategic assessments of the threat, how it is actioned, and what actions are needed across Europe. We also work closely with international partners such as INTERPOL and federal authorities in the US to coordinate our actions worldwide.

Pan-European resources

Education is one of the areas that Europol focuses on in order to develop pan-European resources. One example is the “Say no” project which is aimed at the significantly growing problem of extortion. This is where adults or organised crime groups force a child to send images, that are then used to blackmail the child either for financial gain and/or for additional images. We have created a video and educational material which aims to give teachers, parents and children an understanding of the threat and how to act if exposed to it. The material has been distributed to all countries within the EU.

 Two major challenges

Two challenges that I would like to highlight are encryption and the growing amount of data. Increasing use of encryption can make recovery of evidence a significant challenge for law enforcement. The second problem is the growing amount of child sexual exploitation material and self-generated material (mentioned above) circulating, which generates a growing amount of data that needs to be handled in each case. Staying on top of all this data is a big challenge.

 

”…over the last two years there has been a significant improvement in the European and global commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation, and I believe that the response is only going to get better.”

More focus on darknet

In the future I believe we will see an increased use of dark markets and the dark web. Offenders are growing more technically sophisticated and are taking measures to evade law enforcement. As a result, we are establishing more resources to focus on investigating the dark web in relation to many different crimes; not just child sexual exploitation.

We will also see a need for improved training for police officers to ready them for the challenges that we are facing. That will include increased cooperation with industry to use technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to assist law enforcement in dealing with the material.

Significant improvement

I don’t underestimate the challenges ahead. However, over the last two years there has been a significant improvement in the European and global commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation, and I believe that the response is only going to get better.

Europol and European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)

Europol assists the 28 EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism. Europol set up the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) in 2013 to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU and help protect European citizens, businesses and governments from online crime.