Friend MTS donates unique video fingerprinting technology to International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children to disrupt the distribution of graphic child pornography online.
LONDON, ENGLAND – Today, Friend MTS is donating a forensic technology developed and customized for the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) to assist in finding and removing the most egregious videos of child sexual exploitation from the Internet. Friend MTS’s technology, named F1, generates unique video fingerprints of child pornography video clips.
“Once a video is fingerprinted, F1 can efficiently and reliably identify copies or partial copies wherever they are encountered, saving law enforcement valuable time and enabling online services to filter and block the distribution of this egregious material.” said Friend MTS founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Jonathan Friend.
Friend MTS is donating this technology to ICMEC which will distribute it to law enforcement and software providers to use in their fight against child exploitation worldwide. It will also be offered to online service providers and social networks to prevent the spread of graphic videos of child pornography known law enforcement, INTERPOL and other non-profit organizations. Together, Friend MTS and ICMEC are motivating a larger movement to fight child sexual exploitation, encouraging people to join a campaign to proactively adopt a “Victims First, No Child Left Behind” approach to investigations.
“Friend MTS’s F1 fingerprinting solution is a powerful technology that will enable ICMEC and its partners to successfully combat online child pornography,” said Charlie Tillinghast, CEO of Friend MTS. “We are very pleased to donate our fingerprinting technology to ICMEC to counter the increasing incidence of these horrific crimes against children.”
Troels Oerting, Head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at EUROPOL, expressed his support for this innovative cross-sector collaboration: “The cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector is absolutely necessary, especially in the area of child sexual exploitation. Friend MTS’s donation is an example on how this cooperation can have a direct impact in our capacity to identify children victim of sexual abuse. This technology will provide the police specialists with a robust standard to filter the material seized in the frame of their investigations, giving them a new resource to focus on on-going abuses and rescue more children”.
For 16 years ICMEC has worked to protect children from exploitation and abduction, including efforts to reduce the availability of online child pornography and rescue victims. A key part of this effort is Project Vic, an image hash sharing initiative (www.Projectvic.org). Project Vic allows law enforcement investigators to pre-identify 85% of images seized on a hard drive in order to concentrate on the remaining 15% never before seen by law enforcement. Thus, Project Vic focuses investigative time and resources on identifying and locating children who previously would have gone unidentified. Project Vic currently encompasses over three million unique child abuse images and videos.
Project Vic partners have identified many of the worst videos and images of child sexual abuse and exploitation, and with today’s donation, can now successfully create a data library by “reference” fingerprinting a large collection of videos. In addition, online service providers, such as social networks, video sharing sites, and cloud hosting services, will be able to automatically read the F1 fingerprints, rather than visually screening for child pornography, and stop it from running on their services.
The problem of child pornography has become epidemic, magnified by the use of smart phones by predators which allows them to produce hundreds of short videos of abuse material in a format that allows them to be easily distributed. This donation by Friend MTS will help ICMEC construct an ecosystem of law enforcement agencies and electronic service providers that can all recognize, and identify the same videos because they are using a common fingerprint.
“ICMEC’s Project Vic is solely focused on promoting open standards and technologies that can be freely distributed to all entities fighting child exploitation. The F1 donation will limit the availability of child pornography videos and help prevent their further distribution,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children.
Friend MTS technology works by creating a unique signature for digital videos, like a fingerprint, that calculates the essential characteristics of the video, known as a “hash.” Unlike other common “hashing” technologies or proprietary “hashing,” this donation will give consistency and reliability across many disparate platforms.
“Any tool that decreases the amount of child sexual abuse material circulating on the Internet is welcomed by INTERPOL. We encourage everyone hosting material online to use this technology to ensure their services are not being exploited to distribute appalling videos of child abuse,” said Michael Moran, the Head of INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Unit.
“We already have requests to use this donation worldwide. Most officials working on these crimes have tools that do an excellent job on video fingerprinting but they all do it differently, making it difficult to share the fingerprints. This donation ensures consistency. The platforms can add this technology, calculate and share the F1 signatures” said Richard Brown, Technology Officer for ICMEC. The technology is immediately available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.