Over the past two weeks, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has successfully supported efforts to identify victims of child sexual abuse through its seventh Victim Identification Taskforce (VIDTF), hosted at its headquarters from 14 to 25 October 2019.
These efforts have led to 4 victims being tentatively identified.
VIDTF 7 saw 30 law enforcement experts from 21 countries and INTERPOL coming together to go through millions of images and video files of victims, some as young as a few days old. They were supported by Europol staff, all specialists and intelligence analysts in this crime field.
The participating specialists came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, Europol and INTERPOL.
By analysing the digital, visual and audio content of such images and videos, these victim identification experts retrieved vital clues, identified any overlap in cases and combined their efforts to locate the victims.
More than 48 million (binary unique) images and video files were available in Europol’s database for this operation. In preparation for this taskforce, Europol experts triaged 1 000 series of related images that would be the object of analysis for the VIDTF 7 participants.
As a direct result of this collaboration, the experts managed to analyse a total of 925 series. For 173 of these series, the country of production has likely been identified, and the countries informed so that they can start their own national investigation.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre is now providing support to the EU Member States involved to help safeguard the children concerned.
All the series have been uploaded to the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database. This will allow investigators with access to the database to continue working on the datasets, therefore increasing the chances for the victims to be identified and safeguarded.
How you can help stop child abuse
In June 2017, Europol launched its crowdsourcing ‘Stop Child Abuse - Trace An Object’ initiative as a spin-off of the law enforcement focused VIDTF. This initiative invites the general public to identify objects and places in the hope it can lead to the identification of victims down the line.
Since then, 24 000 tips have been sent to Europol, which have already led to the identification of 9 children and to the prosecution of 2 offenders.
Europol is releasing today a new set of images in the hope that these can be identified by the general public.
These new images can be viewed here.