Sean O’Neill, Chief Reporter
January 30 2017
The fight against the growth of online child abuse images is about to be transformed by a cyberweapon that scours the web for illegal material and demands its rapid removal.
Project Arachnid has released an army of “web spiders” that crawl across the internet tracking down abuse images, identifying the company hosting them and sending immediate take-down notices.
In a six-week trial by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Arachnid processed 230 million pages, located 5.1 million with paedophile material and identified 40,000 unique abuse images. The Internet Watch Foundation, Britain’s trace and removal centre, says it assesses about 1,000 URLs, or web addresses, every week.
Lianna McDonald, chief executive of the Canadian centre, said early feedback from North America indicated that more than 90 per cent of images were being taken down within 48 hours of the removal notice being served. She described the number of child abuse images being located as a “reality check”.
The data harvested by the spiders, from both the open web and the so-called dark web, which is not accessible to standard web search engines, can be shared with law enforcement agencies around the world in seconds. Interpol is supporting the project and Canadian officials will visit Britain soon to share the technology with child protection bodies.
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