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NetClean Labs | 25/03/2017

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Child sexual offenders hide behind anonymisation technologies

Child sexual offenders hide behind anonymisation technologies

Anonymisation technologies continue to be a crucial challenge for police and digital investigators when it comes to identifying offenders who have produced and circulated child sexual abuse material.

In our global research of 368 police officers, six in 10 said that anonymisation technologies such as TOR and the Darknet are one of the major challenges when it comes to identifying and arresting perpetrators of child sexual abuse. It is worrying to think that as the number of child sexual abuse cases continue to rise, the actual number of disguised perpetrators on the loose may be a lot higher than we have estimated.

In a global Ipsos poll released in March, seven out of 10 people support the view that the “dark net” should be shut down. The common view is that it is solely used to hide child abuse networks and illegal marketplaces selling weapons and narcotics, which is true in many ways. But the argument is not as simple as that.

TOR and other anonymisation technologies have an incredibly important social purpose worldwide. In many countries, these are the only way to obtain free information. With states all over the world increasing their monitoring of the Internet, there is a growing need for people to remain anonymous with respect to their governments.

Unfortunately, this means the same services can also be used for criminal purposes, such as the sharing of child sexual abuse material. And there is no denying the fact that abusive usage of this type of technology will continue to increase in the years to come.

The lines between good and evil have once again been blurred. While we can police the Internet and the Darknet, we cannot block child sexual abuse material hosted on the Darknet. Therefore, we need to find other ways to stop criminals from spreading child sexual abuse content online.

The anonymisation services thus make it even more important for the police to work in other ways to trace the origin of the material, for instance, by analysing the actual images.

Our sister company, Griffeye, has recently enhanced the video analytic capability in the Analyze software. Find out how your organisation can prevent criminal activities from taking place on your corporate network, and what you can do to help the police solve child sexual abuse crimes.