Eight children have been saved from a life of sexual abuse following the arrest of a group offering live-streamed sexual abuse. The arrests and rescues followed international efforts from Law enforcement authorities in Belgium, Australia and the Philippines.
Europol press release – “The operation began in Belgium as a case against a Dutch citizen in Antwerp who was sexually abusing his very young foster children in Cambodia as well as other children in the Philippines. Authorities tracked his involvement in producing and distributing child abuse images (including his own material) and videos of live child abuse that were filmed in front of webcams. The Dutch suspect and a female abuser were arrested, and all eight of the vulnerable children were removed from harm.”
Christian Berg, CEO and founder of NetClean, which recently trained Task Force Argos, an Australian law enforcement unit involved in identifying the children, commented:
“Tackling live streamed abuse takes the typical analogy of finding a needle in a hay stack and adds the complication that this needle only exists for a finite period of time. This case is an incredible example of the law enforcement community collaborating to overcome one of the most challenging crime types that the online world has facilitated.
“This kind of case emphasises how critical it is to find those who view or distribute child sexual abuse material, and analyse all of the content they have, regardless of how much there is. One image, one video can sometimes be the clue that brings the whole house of cards tumbling down. This shows that even those who participate in live-streamed abuse, where the digital evidence of abuse is fleeting, can be brought to justice.
“Those who watch this kind of content often save videos or screenshots of the content to look at again, analysing this material can be critical for breaking cases. But all too often this kind of imagery is hidden in plain sight, within case loads of hundreds of thousands of images of child sexual abuse. Law enforcement need investment, training and the right tools to ensure they can focus on new material, containing new and unrescued victims, not the same images that appear in every paedophiles collection.
“Every computer and every network should be equipped to identify when a child sexual abuse image or video is viewed, downloaded or shared. Finding one individual who uses this kind of content can be the start of a trail of breadcrumbs, leading to the rescue of children and the breaking of international abuse rings.”