Alert system will remove millions of child porn images

Technology is tightening the net on people who create and share illegal images of child abuse.

International law enforcement is being given key information, which will allow them to arrest perpetrators and rescue victims.

Internet giants, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, have been given access to a British database. This will enable them to uncover and remove millions of the online images, thanks to a system that catalogues the pictures with ‘hashes’.

The hashing system is in use internationally. Ireland’s hotline.ie alert system, operated by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland (ISPAI), is signed up to the European Commission-funded INHOPE, an association of 11 hotlines across Europe. Each hotline can forward reports for action to other jurisdictions.

ISPAI chief executive Paul Durrant says hotlines were resticted to giving notice to internet-service providers, and to law enforcement, of URLs or IP addresses obtained from public reports, where illegal child sexual abuse material was found.

“Due to legal issues, the actual images/videos evidence could not be captured and transmitted by the hotline,” he said. However, a new IC-CAM hashing system has been developed by INHOPE, in partnership with Interpol. It allows for the hashing and sharing of image/video information, and its the location, with Interpol, which can then add them to ICSE, its international child-exploitation database.

The system has had significant success. Hotline.ie recently received news from Interpol, via the INHOPE IC-CAM coordinator. Images had been uploaded to IC-CAM which were new to law enforcement and not in the ICSE database. “There were three movies, and one still image, which were linked to the same victim. Embedded in the movies were both the GPS data and the serial number of the camera,” she said.

“Interpol began working on the images straight away and identified the source location as Denmark. The Danish police took the case on and immediately deployed resources, in an attempt to identify the both the victim and offender.” Within an hour, the Danish police had located and rescued the victim. Thanks to the URL information provided by the hotline, a request was made to the ISP, who provided the logs and the uploader of the files was also located.

“Industry is keen to develop the ways we can be most effective to fight online child abuse and welcome development of this tool, which can help prevent the uploading of illegal CSAM content at source,” said Mr Durrant.

“In the short time the pilot has run, from just 11 hotlines participating, many thousands of new victim images, previously unknown to law enforcement, have been provided to Interpol through the IC-CAM system. This case shows a spectacular success that resulted from just one of these.”


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