Need to suppress encryption to combat child abuse?

Two children using a smartphone and tablet

Is privacy enhanced at the expense of child safety?

Chris Hughes has been fighting for nine years like never before.

He oversees a team of 21 analysts in Cambridge who finds, identifies and removes Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM) from the Internet.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is funded by the global technology industry.

Manually review online reports of suspected criminal content sent by the public. Hughes sees upset material every day.

Once the content is validated, analysts create a unique “digital fingerprint” for each photo or video and send it to law enforcement and technology companies. You can also search for materials online.

Occasionally, there are dire situations in which we compete to track victims from livestreamed video.

He says reports surged during the pandemic. “There were more than 2,000 reports over the last Bank Holiday weekend in May.”

IWF Chris Hughes

IWF’s Chris Hughes strives to remove child sexual abuse material from the Internet daily

In 2020, IWF received 300,000 reports, confirming 153,000 as new CSAM content.

Police say it’s now possible to find more child predators on messaging apps instead of on the dark web. Many don’t even encrypt web traffic.

Many authorities Facebook wants to introduce End-to-end encryption for messages sent via Messenger and Instagram Direct.

End-to-end encryption is a privacy feature that makes it impossible for anyone but the sender and recipient to read messages sent online.

Authorities are concerned about Facebook’s plans, saying it will be much harder to arrest suspects and find predators for their children.

Facebook states that it protects user privacy by using such technology.

However, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have repeatedly opposed the idea since 2019, saying it would jeopardize efforts to combat child abuse.

Australia is also demanding that the tech industry hand over private encryption keys (backdoors to networks) to authorities. Both foreign and Australian companies refused.

Jenny Afia, head of the Sillings legal team, said enabling backdoors is bad. [it]..

“It’s worth remembering that the introduction of end-to-end encryption has already prevented many crimes.”

Jenny Afia, Head of Sillings & # 39; Legal Team

Lawyer Jenny Afia believes regulation is unlikely to solve child protection issues

Cryptographic proponents also point out that providing secure means of communication to dissidents and whistleblowers and making keys available could put them at risk.

Edward Snowden, an NSA whistleblower who first emphasized mass surveillance to the public, said Consumers warn that they may “lose all privacy” When the government blocks end-to-end encryption or claims a backdoor.

Netsweeper in Canada catalogs the Internet to help schools and Internet service providers block harmful content.

It accounts for a quarter of the world’s Internet traffic, accounts for 37% of UK schools, and scans 100 million new URLs daily. Up to 300 URLs are reported to IWF daily.

“In the past, the government has left large tech companies in place, probably because they didn’t understand as much as they do now,” said Perry Roach, CEO of Netsweeper.

“But if you don’t enable law enforcement with sophisticated tools, criminals, scammers, pedophiles, and terrorists can go unnoticed on the Internet.”

Software engineer Brian Bason founded the US company Burke after giving his sons his first cell phone.

Bark uses AI neural networks to analyze text messages and social media in milliseconds for bullying, online predation, child abuse, signs of depression, and suicidal ideation.

Brian Bason, CEO of Burke

Brian Bason felt that existing tools for managing children’s devices were “troublesome.”

The child must agree to pass the login credentials, but only the relevant section of the message will be alerted to parents and the school.

The bark has informed the FBI of nearly 1000 child predators over the last five years.

“In reality, end-to-end encryption significantly reduces the amount of CSAM material reported to the authorities,” Bason told the BBC. “For me, the trade-off is not worth it.”

Perhaps these companies disagree because their business model relies on unlimited access to the data pipeline.

However, former British and US intelligence staff are used by investigators when end-to-end encryption is introduced, such as phishing where users are tricked into visiting fake websites and passing login credentials. I’m telling the BBC that there are other successful ways to do it.

Internet giants need to use machine learning to detect the behavior of child predators on devices or servers. This only happens after the message has been decrypted, so it won’t break the encryption.

Thorn, a US foundation that develops software to combat child exploitation, identifies eight child victims and 215 child abuse materials per day.

Sarah Gardner, Vice President of Foreign Affairs at Thorn, “Homomorphic encryption” -A form of encryption that allows a user to perform calculations on encrypted data without first decrypting the data.

Another option is to invest in a better solution, she adds.

Alan McConnell, Forensic Advisor for Cyan Forensics

Former police officer Alan McConnell says police need to quickly extract evidence from devices

Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics agrees to use statistical sampling to scan the CSAM content on the suspect’s device in just 10 minutes.

“End-to-end encryption is already here, and it’s neither good nor bad,” said Ian Stevenson, co-founder and CEO of CyanForensics.

“But there is an urgent need for a broader protocol to ensure the safety of children online.”

Former detective police officer Alan McConnell, who has worked on more than 100 child sexual abuse cases, has left Scottish police to teach Cyan about the problems facing police.

As a result of his work, major British police used Cyan software in March to detect CSAM material on a former criminal’s computer. Individuals were found to have secretly installed cameras in the clubs used by their children.

But a senior German prosecutor says his biggest problem is getting tech companies to play the ball.

Markus Hartmann, Director of Central Cybercrime, North Rhine-Westphalia

Prosecutor Markus Hartmann wants a “targeted” way to break end-to-end encryption

Markus Hartmann, director of the Central Cybercrime Division in North Rhine-Westphalia, said:

“I’ve heard they have these big teams fighting digital crime, why don’t they complain to law enforcement?”

His troops recently destroyed a child pornographic ring, charged 65 suspects, and rescued a 13-year-old child.

They were assisted by Microsoft, which scanned the database of Skype users to find the suspect’s IP address.

Hartman surprisingly supports encryption.

“Breaking encryption, installing backdoors, or banning it is more harmful than good … and it’s not that the people we’re really chasing can’t avoid it. I think, “he says.

“As a prosecutor, I was able to build my own end-to-end encryption network in two days via a public library.”

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