Here at Thorn, one part of our work is equipping law enforcement with the technology they need to help identify children exploited through sex trafficking or child sexual abuse imagery faster. This work would not be possible without the policies that protect child victims and hold perpetrators accountable. As our Strategy and Operations Director, Brooke Istook, shared earlier this year, you can start addressing these issues right where you live—by learning about the laws in your country, state, or city. Read More
Philip Hölzenspies is a Software Engineer at Facebook. He also works to maintain the platform’s PhotoDNA infrastructure, which helps accelerate the identification, removal and reporting of child abuse imagery.
In the (online) Child Safety space, tech companies get to forget about being companies for a bit and focus on what really matters. People who work in this space in tech companies know this, sort of. It is invigorating, though, to experience it so acutely during a cross-company Child Safety Hackathon. This type of event provides a rare networking opportunity to meet people and share insights with those working in the same space. While conferences on child safety cover a much wider range of highly critical areas — law enforcement, signals for social workers, post-traumatic pastoral care, etc. — they’re far removed from the day-to-day job of a software engineer. A hackathon like this provides the opportunity to share war stories, personal drivers and innovative solutions that are tied to this work. Read More
Last month, Thorn Digital Defender Del Harvey wrote about Twitter’s use of PhotoDNA, a technology developed by Microsoft that computes hash values of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The tool applies a unique fingerprint to identify an individual photo to detect suspected material online and then supports law enforcement to report and investigate it. Read More
Worldwide, individuals use the Internet to find child sexual abuse material and connect with others who share their sexual interest in children. This behavior occurs under an assumed level of anonymity, and although some may recognize that this behavior is wrong, many individuals need a third party to tell them to stop and seek help. Read More
Advances in connectivity, data storage, file sharing and smartphone technology have contributed to an explosive increase in child sexual abuse imagery, making it easier for those who share abusive content to connect and form communities. Traditionally, identification and classification of child sexual abuse imagery (CSAI) has been performed separately by online photo sharing companies, with some companies unable to implement image identification and classification at all. This lack of collaboration duplicates efforts and reduces the effectiveness and speed of identifying, removing and reporting child sexual abuse material, potentially slowing victim assistance. In an effort to fight this growing problem, the tech industry is working together like never before—this is where PhotoDNA comes in. Read More
Earlier this year, Thorn was asked to join the Advisory Board of INHOPE – The International Association of Internet Hotlines, which works with industry and law enforcement partners to ensure that child abuse imagery on the Internet is taken down as quickly and effectively as possible. This week, we were excited to attend the Prevention and Awareness Joint Law Enforcement / INHOPE Conference in The Hague, bringing together a diverse group of individuals from around the world who are committed to combating child exploitation and removing child sexual abuse material from the Internet. We were able to connect with hotlines from across the globe, NGOs, technology industries, and law enforcement. Read More
As Child Abuse Prevention Month comes to a close, we want to call attention to the long-lasting effects of abuse. Fighting child sexual exploitation and trafficking, we are aware that child abuse and neglect are often precursors to a life of exploitation. Breaking out of a cycle of violence is extremely difficult, and part of why we focus on intercepting these crimes against children so that they have a fighting chance for a balanced, happy life.
A big win for digital defenders this week! William Akers, 46, a suspected child predator profiled in our most recent Thorn Alert, is in federal custody facing child pornography charges. After an incredible response from the public and dozens of media outlets, he was identified and brought into custody early Thursday morning following a tip from the public. Read More
Law enforcement needs your help in their search for the latest suspected child predator captured on video and profiled by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
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