Edinburgh-based digital forensics startup Cyan Forensics has built a tool that can find child sexual abuse material on a device within minutes – a process which could previously take law enforcement months. Today, at the Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, the startup is announcing its first US partnership, with the Alexandria, Virginia headquartered nonprofit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The partnership is the first step for the startup to introduce its tool to US-based social media companies, network operators, and law enforcement. The company is already working with the UK Home Office and police forces across the UK to speed up the time taken to find evidence of child abuse on devices.
Digital evidence is vital to investigations into child sexual exploitation, but these investigations often take months due to delays caused by backlogs of devices waiting to be searched and the amount of detailed work required to search each device.
Founded in 2016, Cyan Forensics’ software quickly scans devices, helping police detect indecent images of children in minutes, speeding up the time it takes to search seized devices. It can also help to better inform officers on the ground if a suspect should be taken in for further questioning and a comprehensive digital search.
Quicker searches and identification of child sex offenders not only saves police time and money – it means that vulnerable children can be safeguarded faster, and suspects brought to justice sooner.
NCMEC’s CyberTipline is the nation’s centralized reporting system for child sexual exploitation. It receives reports from the public and US based internet companies like Google and Facebook, and makes information from these reports available to US law enforcement, including the FBI, Homeland Security, the Secret Service, the US Military, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces (ICACs), and law enforcement in over 110 countries around the world. In 2018, NCMEC received more than 18.4 million reports to its CyberTipline.
Additionally, NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program helps identify child victims who appear in child sexual abuse material and serves as the central clearinghouse for information related to child victims who have been previously identified by law enforcement. The program has reviewed more than 283 million images and videos and has a record of more than 17,000 child victims identified by law enforcement.
“This is a partnership of shared values, and we are delighted to be working with such a respected force in the fight against child abduction, abuse, and exploitation,” said Cyan Forensics’ co-founder and CEO, Ian Stevenson. “Cyan Forensics can support NCMEC with the great work it is already doing to help protect children both on and offline. We are proud to be associated with an organisation at the forefront of the field, and look forward to discussing how we can help other future partners across America.”
“Timing is often critical in these cases, and we’re excited at the prospect of new technology that could provide faster access to information that will help rescue children from abuse,” said John Clark, President and CEO of NCMEC. “Cyan Forensics’ technology has the power to make a big impact in the fight against online child sexual abuse imagery.”