How a Hackathon Hopes to Stop Online Child Exploitation

 In News & Updates

Every year, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reviews 25,000,000 images containing child sexual abuse imagery (CSAM).

How do you conceptualize a number like 25,000,000? It’s unthinkable.

For perspective, there are just over 24,000,000 people in Australia. The population of a large country — that’s how many vile, horrific, and disturbing images NCMEC had to review in a year.

In 2016, the Internet Watch Foundation found 57,335 URLs containing confirmed child sexual abuse imagery. 57,335 — that’s about the population of a mid-sized city like Watertown, NY.

Still not convinced of the epidemic?

How about this? Over half of the children depicted on those 57,335 URLs were aged 10 or younger.

We’ve all been ten years old. Many of us have ten-year-old children, or nieces, or nephews.

Now that’s unthinkable.

Protecting the helpless

These images aren’t going away.

That’s why we’ve spearheaded a hackathon taking place on July 6th and 7th in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Sponsored by the RCMP, Microsoft, Magnet, and Two Hat Security, the Protecting Innocence Hackathon is an attempt to build a bridge between three diverse disciplines — law enforcement, academia, and the technology sector — for the greater good.

The goal is to work together to build technology and global policy that helps stop online child exploitation.

Teams from across all three industries will gather to work on a variety of projects, including:

  • designing a text classification system to identify child luring conversations
  • training an image classification to identify child exploitation media
  • coordinating on a global protocol for sharing CSAM evidence between agencies
  • and more…

We are hopeful that by encouraging teamwork and partnerships across these three vital industries, we will come closer to ridding the internet of online child exploitation.

The beauty of a hackathon is that it’s a tried and true method for hacking away at tough problems in a short period. The time box encourages creativity, resourcefulness, critical thinking — and above all, collaboration.

We’re honored to be working on this. And we’re indebted to the RCMP, Microsoft, Magnet, and all the hackers attending for their selfless contributions.

Protecting the innocent

Forget incomprehensible numbers like 25,000,000 or 57,335. We’re doing this for all the ten-year-olds who’ve been robbed of their innocence.

Today, it’s easier than ever for predators to create and share pictures, videos, and stories. And every time those pictures, videos, and stories are shared, the victim is re-victimized.

It gets worse every year. The Internet Watch Foundation found that reports of child sexual abuse imagery rose by 417% between 2013 and 2015.

At Two Hat Security, we’re doing our part to fight the spread of illegal and immoral content. In collaboration with the RCMP and universities across the country, and with a generous grant from Mitacs, we’re building CEASE, an artificial intelligence model that can detect new CSAM.

But we can’t solve this problem alone.

So this July 6th and 7th, we salute the code warriors, chief enforcers, and data mages who are coming together to make a real difference in the world.

We hope you will too.

Just a little sneak peek…

***

Want to know more about CEASE? Read about the project here.

We believe in a world free of online bullying, harassment, and child exploitation. Find out how we’re making that vision a reality with our high-risk content detection system Community Sift.

We work with companies like ROBLOX, Animal Jam, musical.ly, and more to protect their communities from dangerous content.

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