The NetClean Report 2018 indicates two different groups of offenders
Last week we launched the NetClean Report 2018, and I am very pleased with the attention that it got. Not only because of the hard work that goes into our surveys and analysis of the results, but more importantly, because the information that we produce together with leading experts, is vital in the fight against child sexual abuse.
At NetClean we are dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse; and I believe this is best done by understanding the crime, and the offenders that commit it. This is why we conduct surveys with police officers every year to understand trends, and developments in use of technology. We present the results together with insight from leading professionals who can interpret and contextualise what we have found. It’s our contribution to the growing knowledge bank.
In this year’s report, we look in more detail at particular topics such as: self-produced material; developments in technologies; how such developments affect the way perpetrators operate; and the impact that this has on law enforcement investigations.
Two different groups of offenders
My analysis of the results in the report is that we may be looking at two different groups of offenders who consume child sexual abuse material, and the gap between them.
The first group contains the majority of perpetrators. They are averagely technically astute and mainly consume child sexual abuse material that is readily available on the internet. Even though they might hoard material and exhibit compulsive behaviour around child sexual abuse material, they do not show any significant sophistication when they operate on the internet.
The second, smaller group, consists of perpetrators that are more sophisticated and very technologically astute. They are probably organised into groups and can use encryption and other technologies to avoid detection. Some might use cryptocurrencies to buy and sell child sexual abuse material.
The results might indicate that the gap between these two groups is widening. The more advanced perpetrators are becoming more advanced, organised and sophisticated in their use of technology. This group is probably not growing quickly in size. The other group, represents the big increase in people who consume child sexual abuse material. Their methods, however, remain the same.
Valuable insights from employers
This bigger group, consists of people who can be found by involvement from civil society and key figures such as employers. In last year’s report we revealed that there is no such thing as a stereotypical offender who consumes child sexual abuse material, however the data revealed that most are in employment. This makes the workplace a prominent place to identify this type of perpetrator. To build on this, we broadened this year’s report by surveying employers to learn from their insight and experience of finding child sexual abuse in their IT environments. The data shows insight into how child sexual abuse crime is handled in the workplace, and revelations about how perpetrators react when they are confronted by their employers.
This data is important to inform how we talk to employers, and in our daily work of developing technology for businesses and organisations.
We are constantly developing our knowledge base, and already now starting work on next year’s survey. We are keen to ensure that we capture voices and questions from industry and all parts of civil society, so please get in touch if you have any thoughts on issues that we could further research.