Given the global reach of the Internet, the posting of child abuse material online constitutes an international crime and demands concerted collaboration worldwide.
At INTERPOL, we work very closely with many partners to increase awareness, enforce laws and to prevent crime in this area. We also work with organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to improve safety and security online.
We run many initiatives,including the development of a victim identification network and the coordination of international operations. Key to identifying victims is the International Child Sexual Exploitation database.
A key project involves the monitoring of websites to develop the "worst of" list of sites that are illegal in all countries. We then work with Internet Access Service Providers (ASPs) to block access to sites containing child abuse material.
Identifying videos of abuse
To aid law enforcement in fighting crimes against children, a new forensic technology has been developed to assist in finding and removing the most explicit videos of child sexual exploitation from the Internet.
Created by online security technology provider Friend MTS and donated to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the technology generates a unique digital signature, like a fingerprint, of child sexual abuse videos, which can then be compared with other videos to detect matching ‘fingerprints’.
Once a video is given a ‘fingerprint’, police and Internet service providers can quickly and easily identify full or partial copies of the video wherever they are hosted online. This enables online providers to filter and block known child sexual abuse material, and helps police to investigate cases of online child abuse more efficiently.
The Baseline system allows partners in the public and private sectors to recognize, report and remove child sexual abuse material from their networks.
They can do this by checking images and videos on their networks against the Baseline list of ‘digital signatures’, which is calculated from some of the worst child abuse images and videos recorded in INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation database.
In the case of a match, the network operators alert the police and can remove the material, thereby limiting its circulation.
The Baseline list is made up of ‘hash codes’, and does not include the images and videos themselves. A digital signature is only added to the Baseline list following agreement by three different members of INTERPOL’s specialist network of investigators as meeting strict criteria in terms of the severity of the image content, for example those believed to feature children aged 13 and under. The strict criteria ensure that the Baseline list refers only to images and videos which would be considered as illegal in any country.
INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database
8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse
Child abuse material and the Internet: Cyberpsychology of online child related sex offending
by Aiken, M., Moran, M., & Berry, M. J. (2011)