In 2021 LIBRA identified millions of images of child sexual abuse and provided insights to how the material moves between European countries. The program is now being launched on a larger scale on the European market enabling a broader exertion to fight child sexual abuse as it can be used by several actors in addition to law enforcement. LIBRA is developed by the Dutch software company Web-IQ and enabled through funding and support from the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice and World Childhood Foundation.
LIBRA is a program that searches the internet to find child sexual abuse material so that it can be blocked and deleted. It finds previously known illegal images and videos as well as identifies new likely illegal material by scanning from different angles, without human interaction. As the material itself is illegal to handle this allows for more actors to apply LIBRA’s technology and thus strengthens existing efforts in fighting child sexual abuse.
The extent of sexual abuse of children is massive and elusive. The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children processes on average 60,000 reports of child sexual abuse online every day. Furthermore, Interpol reports that images of child sexual abuse in their database are getting more and more severe and that more than 60% of the children are between 2 – 12 years old. The younger the victims, the more severe the documented abuse.
” Every minute we wait, thousands of children will suffer, knowing that images of their abuse are still circulated online, children will continue being at risk of grooming or exposed to abuse on demand.” said H.M. Queen Silvia when stressing the importance of doing more and acting now, during an AI roundtable meeting at the Royal Castle, November 20th, 2019
“At Childhood we have a history of developing impactful online solutions to keep children safe. Our commitment in LIBRA means that we are adding technology to the toolbox needed to prevent child sexual abuse. Together with Web-IQ, The Dutch government, and other partners we want expand the use of the technology within the EU” says Paula Guillet de Monthoux, Secretary General, World Childhood Foundation.
Following a successful proof of concept LIBRA is being launched on a larger scale in 2022 to combat child sexual abuse. During the pilot phase 2020-2021 LIBRA identified and removed tens of thousands of unknown child sexual abuse images, found new server hosts and documented the movement of how the material is hosted. The program also found millions of images of child sexual abuse on the servers of Dutch participating ICT companies and detected tens of thousands of url’s containing child sexual abuse material.
“We all have a responsibility to protect kids and fight Child Sexual Exploitation. It is in Web-IQ’s DNA to support this fight internationally. Sparked by Her Majesty in 2019, LIBRA already provides new and objective insights. Although just a “Proof of Concept” LIBRA detected new hotspots with un-known CSAM including new victims (90% boys), LIBRA initiated the take down of tens of thousands of images and showed this can be done within GDPR and without extra resources from hotlines or LEA’s. Now together with Childhood, EOKM, Dutch Government and many others supporting LIBRA, we strive to take the next steps to make LIBRA actionable by embedding it in the international ecosystem that fights this horrific crime.” says Eldert van Wijngaarden, CEO and founder of Web-IQ.
“The LIBRA initiative, which we have supported with knowledge and expertise in the past year, is potentially very interesting for the National Police because it offers insights on an objective and international level and also in near real time. This allows us to utilize our resources in a better and more targeted way. We are now able to see the results of our interventions much faster. In addition, in the right legal context, the acquired intelligence might be applied in ongoing investigations. The latter will be explored further with the Public Prosecution’s Office in the coming years.” says Ben van Mierlo, National Coordinator Online Child Sexual Exploitation, Netherlands National Police
The initiative for LIBRA emerged after Web-IQ’s founder and CEO, Eldert van Wijngaarden, participated in an AI Roundtable on how artificial intelligence can help combat online child sexual abuse. The event was hosted by Childhood and Global Child Forum at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in 2019. At the meeting, the challenges of the inherent radioactivity of child sexual abuse material were discussed: since the material itself is illegal, very few stakeholders are allowed to handle it.
Research shows that online abuse can be just as traumatic as abuse that takes place offline. Knowing that images and videos are spread and shared online creates immense suffering and re-traumatization for the children who have been abused. To stop this and to identify the perpetrators, better technical tools are required. In LIBRA, Web-IQ has provided a way to scan for child sexual abuse material without having to download or view the illegal material thus permitting more stakeholders to be proactive in the combat against child sexual abuse.
At Childhood we know that child sexual abuse can be prevented. This why we invest in technology and urge others to support impactful online solutions to keep children safe both offline and online.
For more information, please contact:
Charles Mingo Bennström, pressansvarig, World Childhood Foundation
+46 (0) 73-422 04 42, email@example.com
Saskia de Jong , Chief Social Impact Officer, Web-IQ
+31 6 12476262, firstname.lastname@example.org
World Childhood Foundation
World Childhood Foundation works to protect children from violence and sexual abuse by providing support to local organizations that are developing new and innovative methods to help vulnerable children and families. With relatively modest investments, combined with close dialogue and support, Childhood can serve as an incubator and help new ideas and organizations to grow and become sustainable. Childhood was founded by H.M. Queen Silvia in 1999.
Web-IQ is one of the world’s leading open source intelligence companies. Its origin and “driving force” is related to the fight against Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). Web-IQ provides open source intelligence technology, tools and data to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in 34 countries.