In closing

Conclusion and Acknowledgements

Anna Borgström, Chief Executive Officer, NetClean

Technology – a driver of both problem and solution

Technology has developed at an unprecedented speed over the past couple of decades. Large parts of the globe have access to the internet, mobile phones are ubiquitous, and there is an infinite amount of ways to communicate across the web. The possibilities for what we can accomplish online are mind-boggling.

As with everything else, technology has also moved child sexual abuse online. Live-streamed child sexual abuse is one development, and an increasing problem which we had not heard of a decade ago. We frequently think about it as a crime that happens far away, but this report shows that is happening everywhere, also so right where we are. Children across the world are being subjected to sexual abuse online, and their vulnerability when it comes to live-streamed offences is great.

Technology is now the driving factor behind how material is produced, distributed and stored. All mobile phones have a camera, a factor which has markedly influenced how material is produced, and the almost infinite ways of communicating online drives the dissemination of the material. Phones, USB sticks, laptops and external hard-drives are capable of storing increasingly large amounts of data, and in addition there is the possibility to store data online.

Technology also plays a pivotal role in police investigations. Examples of that are challenges following E2E encryption and built-in encryption, and the difficult nature of investigations on darknet/TOR.

However, technology is not just a driver of the problem, it also presents solutions to fight it. It is, for better or worse, a double-edged sword. Prior to moving online, child sexual abuse was far less discussed and largely confined to the dark and murky places of humanity. Today we have the possibility to detect the crimes and safeguard children.

There are many different tools to aid this work. There are tools designed specifically to block child sexual abuse material in Internet Service Provider networks, and technology that can detect how material is shared in P2P networks. NetClean specialises in technology designed to detect child sexual abuse material on laptops and IT systems belonging to employers of every size. The police have access to tools ranging from forensic programmes that extract data from devices, to programmes that sort and analyse the large quantities of images and videos that occur in criminal investigations.

Artificial Intelligence is opening up a whole new world of possibilities, and will be a game changer in the fight against child sexual abuse. However, as with all technology it is not in itself a holy grail. To be truly effective, we have to also scale already existing technology on all fronts so that we can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow in a comprehensive way.

And while technology is continuing to be refined and developed, the crime of child sexual abuse and the welfare of future generations is also gaining more importance on political agendas across the world. This means more recourses, more involvement, and more tangible desire and knowledge to generate real action and efforts to stop child sexual abuse. Technology, knowledge and collaboration is the key to achieve this.

Children safeguarded from
sexual abuse during 2018.

The police officers who participated in the survey were asked how many children their unit had safeguarded from sexual abuse in 2018. Together they had rescued 3,707 children.

Acknowledgements

We would like to extend our gratitude to the 450 police officers who participated in our research and took the time to share their knowledge and expertise with us. The work that they do is invaluable and life changing for each of the 3,707 children that they safeguarded in 2018, and for all children rescued prior to that.

We also want to direct a big thank you to our sister company Griffeye, for asking their customers to participate in the survey on our behalf.

We would like to thank the businesses that answered our survey in the US, for taking the time to answer the survey and for providing us with a better understanding of how child sexual abuse material is tackled in large organisations.

Finally, we would like to thank all individuals that commented on the report. Your insight and expertise provide us with the opportunity to contextualise and bring further meaning to our research.

Thank you!

About NetClean

NetClean develops world leading technology solutions to fight child sexual abuse. Our solutions are used worldwide in business IT environments, by large and medium sized businesses, government agencies and public sector organisations. The technology reacts when it detects the digital fingerprint of an image or video that law enforcement has classified as child sexual abuse, to keep workplaces free from child sexual abuse material.