AviaTor Forum, the Highlights
“The AviaTor Project ticks both boxes: it fights child sexual abuse, and it provides missing tools to fight that crime area” Arnoud Heeres, European Commission.
Made possible through the support and funding of the EC Commission, AviaTor fosters cross-border collaboration including Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) and industry. Our AviaTor Forum broke down the objectives, user experience and what will be made possible with future funding.
NCMEC Reports Keep Rising
Mandatory reporting in the US resulted in 21.7 million NCMEC reports in 2020. These reports are forwarded to LEA so they can rescue victims and catch perpetrators. AviaTor supports LEA handle this enormous work load with Augmented Visual Intelligence and Targeted Online Research.
“With our technology, we support the investigator, while keeping the human being in control” - Nicky Haneveer, ZiuZ
Technology cannot replace an experienced investigator, but it can help them do their job better.
A Tailor-made, Customizable Solution
AviaTor is free for LEAs to use, but how does it work?
Database: Basic database functions save time on triage, searching, clustering, and tracking distribution of the workload. AviaTor has a plug-in system which includes a number of visual and text analysis steps.
Prioritization: Reports are prioritized using different rules. Examples include the number of files uploaded by a user, and whether a user has been previously reported. These rules can be customized locally by the LEA to best suit their needs.
Targeted crawling: Predefined checks work to automatically enrich the investigative data available in a NCMEC report. Examples include checks which return the status of a Facebook Profile, or high-risk key words associated with a user’s occupation such as those working with children.
“We realized from the interviews we had to take a step back. We cannot implement fancy, advanced analysis, if the basics are not in place.” - Annemarie Brockmöller, Web IQ
Challenges and Opportunities
Panel discussions highlights.
IT infrastructure: The installation and functioning of AviaTor has specific needs, most importantly connectivity to the internet. Advice from the Dutch police: involving your IT department as early as possible can save precious time in starting to use the tool.
Data: LEAs must work against the clock to get data which helps identify the perpetrator before the data retention time lapses and it is no longer accessible. AviaTor indicates this information with the report, meaning LEAs are able to prioritize cases before it’s too late.
User-driven development: LEA feedback has been continually implemented into the development of the tool to maximize its usefulness.
“Throughout the process, we were able to say what we really need.” - Yves Goethals, Belgian Federal Police
Sharing best practices: As more and more agencies start using AviaTor, the development becomes a shared effort, drawing together best practices amongst LEA. This brings a great opportunity for standardising the approach to combating CSAM in Europe and the rest of the world.
Some of the best features of the tool from the perspective of law enforcement?
LE Wellness: The stress and psychological impact on Law Enforcement (LE) of the impossible workload of manually performing all of the search activity to identify offenders is huge. By reducing the amount of labour required, AviaTor plays a crucial role in improving LE wellness.
Preventing bias: A lot of research is performed by the tool before LEAs identify new indicators or make judgements about the dangerousness of a person. This can help avoid crucial errors.
Makes the impossible possible: AviaTor can help countries without the infrastructure to handle large volumes of reports, putting LEA back in control of overwhelming numbers of reports.
“At the Dutch police, we choose to take a victim-oriented approach, meaning they are always the most important person we are fighting for. We believe that AviaTor is, and will be, a great help in the process.” - Ben van Mierlo, Dutch National Police
The Dutch National Police will be the Project Lead for AviaTor Phase Two if the next phase of funding is granted. Based on their experience of processing industry reports, they are the best equipped to drive the collaboration and peer-to-peer learning that is key to this next phase. ZiuZ will be acting again as Project Managers.
The Future of AviaTor
AviaTor is currently going up for a second phase of funding. If successful, these are some of the things the team will be working on.
- Ensure AviaTor is completely sustainable and functional
- Develop advanced AI for text and video analysis
- Drive collaboration among LEA, Europol, INTERPOL, and industry
- Publish yearly reports including statistics and findings on industry reporting
- Onboard at least 25 national LEAs
- Conduct a legal review into EU law and policies influencing the project
With continued funding AviaTor can provide a solution for now and for the future. European providers host more than two thirds of CSAM globally (according to the IWF 2019 Annual Report). This means that the 20 million reports handled by NCMEC are just a fraction of the total amount. We need to plan for the possibility of mandatory reporting becoming a reality in Europe. And that’s what the AviaTor project does.
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