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State officials push tech to combat child porn

To help law enforcement agencies investigating child pornography cases, the attorneys general of Virginia and South Dakota recently unveiled the Campaign for Child Rescue, which encourages the use of advanced technology to locate and rescue children from sexual exploitation and trafficking.

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Launched in February, the campaign is a national initiative created by Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley in partnership with technology companies Griffeye and Hubstream and the nonprofit Project VIC.  It works to put the latest forensic tools into the hands of investigators sifting through evidence of victims of child pornography.

A single seized computer can hold millions of images, many of which have appeared elsewhere. The Griffeye technology flags similar and previously identified images so investigators can focus on the unique ones that may lead to prosecutions. Hubstream’s crowdsourcing platform allows law enforcement officials to upload illegal images, enabling investigators from all over the world to compare photos and help identify both victims and perpetrators.

The initiative also supports front-line law enforcement personnel by reducing their exposure to video and photos depicting sexual abuse of children by 70 percent or more, reducing stress and enabling them to focus instead on children still awaiting rescue.

Although the technology is already in use in five states, the partners want to grow the network by having more states participate, according to a report in the Daily Progress.

“We’ve made significant investments in new technology so that, rather than each state or law enforcement agency doing these investigations on their own, they can be linked and multiple investigations can be conducted at the same time,” Herring said a recent meeting of the southern region’s National Association of Attorneys General.

The Virginia Office of Attorney General purchased the software for the use of the Virginia State Police in the Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children center. “If additional states adopt this technology, Virginia and other participating states will be able to more easily coordinate investigations across state lines and share information about victims and perpetrators,” Herring said in the program’s announcement.

“The more attorneys general and the more law enforcement agencies we have engaged in this effort ... the more powerful it is, the more perpetrators we can get and the more children we can rescue,” he added.

The Campaign for Child Rescue is not the first of its kind. Project Vic, a joint effort of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Crimes Center’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, was a GCN Award winner in 2015.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA from West Chester University and an MA in English from the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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