Technology gears up to the problem

As a firm of solicitors that specialises in dealing with sexual offences and cases involving allegations of possession, making or distribution of indecent images, it is becoming clear that the law enforcement agencies are stepping up the level of investment and resources to tackling this growing area of potential abuse and exploitation.

The Canadian reporting service, CyberTipline has developed a piece of ground breaking technology called Project Arachnoid that is available to Social Media Providers and can be deployed across websites, chat rooms, and newsgroups with the ability to enable the hosts to immediately identify and remove any indecent images of children that may be detected. In support of this it was very recently announced that the Home Office is investing £600,000.

Project Arachnoid works by employing digital fingerprints to ‘crawl’ the internet, whether chatrooms, websites or newsgroups, and in doing so it has the capacity to identify phenomenally quickly where there are indecent images of children. In just over 6 weeks, Project Arachnoid was able to process over 230 million webpages, detect over 5.1 million web pages that hosted indecent images of children, and in doing so, it detected over 40,000 unique indecent images of children.

This massive leap forward in detection of indecent images will undoubtedly see an increase in the number of cases in the UK.

It is the expectation that this “real-time” detection and removal of any indecent images of children will enable websites, chat rooms and newsgroups to be taken down quickly and decisively. With the ongoing investigative resources available to the Police and law enforcement agencies, the accessing of these websites or forums, leaves a digital trace by the user, the tracking and logging of the Internet Protocol address is a ‘digital trail of breadcrumbs’, which it is expected will enable law enforcement agencies to identify and locate the possible user.

With the increase in sexting by youths and the increased prevalence of sharing of indecent material, the use of chatrooms and social media will see an increase in detection.

With these types of cases, expert advice is required. The changes in technology and the increasingly complexity of these investigations means that experts are required to advice those that may be accused of such matters.