Artificial intelligence could play a part in tackling the problem of online child abuse, according to a report from think tank Demos.
The report argues that resources should focus on prevention at the source rather than on individual, low-level offenders. It states that one way this could be done is by analysing child sexual abuse images (CSAI) using artificial intelligence (AI).
It also argues that education in schools and by parents is important, in order to help children understand the danger of sharing sexual content online.
According to the report, a major part of the problem is that 1/5 of these images are ‘self-generated’ – that is, they are taken and sent by the minors involved. It states that 16% of 11-16-year olds in the UK have sent sexual images, and that 1/6 of the people reported to the police for indecent images are themselves minors.
AI and deep learning technology could help identify these photos before they are distributed further, according to the report.
However, this type of technology is relatively nascent, with IBM last year breaking the record for artificial intelligence image recognition with a success rate of 33.8%.
Consistent investment would be required, and given the already stretched resources of police and law enforcement agencies, tackling frontline offenders would likely be reduced.
The report argues that this approach – tackling the problem at its root rather than going after individual offenders, is an effective one. “This is not being ‘soft on paedophiles’, but rather a sensible way of targeting limited resources,” it states.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which contributed to the report, claims that less than a tenth of a percent of CSAI content found in the UK is hosted within the country, with 60% coming from Europe and two thirds from North America.
Andrew Puddephatt, IWF chairman, believes that this is down to the UK’s model of “independent self-regulation,” and will argue in Westminster for further industry collaboration.
“There is always a debate about how far governments should intervene in the oversight and regulation of the internet but the fight against child sexual abuse imagery shows how much can be achieved when the industry works together with everyday internet users.”