- Interpol has arrested two Brazilian citizens after their faces were matched with social media profiles.
- The two were uploading child abuse footage on dark web forums as well as on encrypted IM platforms.
- The content was flagged by investigators in Australia, leading to the eventual identification.
Interpol has announced the arrest of two perpetrators in two Brazilian states, Pernambuco and Piaui. At the same time, a 5-year-old victim of sexual abuse was rescued and safely taken into care. The operation relied on investigatory findings that were made possible thanks to the use of content-flagging systems for footage uploaded on the dark web.
Interpol maintains a relevant database and receives “flags” or uploads by police forces from around the globe in an effort to identify victims or abusers. The investigators use image and video comparison software, so if the same person appears on another upload, the connection is made, and crumbs of information that could lead to identification are grouped.
In this case, the disturbing footage that led to identifying the involved individuals was uploaded on a dark web forum back in August 2020. Interpol’s agents added the footage to their database and waited for another submission. Soon, a member of the Australian Center to Counter Child Exploitation flagged another material that seemed to feature the same individuals, and the collective evidence pointed to Brazil.
The Brazilian Federal Police opened an investigation following a relevant alert and found that the perpetrators were live-streaming their disgraceful acts on encrypted IM platforms. After multiple rounds of image analysis, the investigators were able to find matches with social media profiles and found out that the perpetrators were actually the victim’s parents.
Tracing individuals who upload content online while giving away only their faces is now possible thanks to the advancement of technology and the international collaboration of law enforcement authorities. We have seen that happening again in Spain, and also more recently in France, but the truth is that arrests dwarf the volumes of activity.
We’re still far from eliminating child abuse and the circulation of the relevant material. But, hopefully, the advancements in AI and facial recognition will give us a great push in that direction. Even if these systems were to use social media profiles and other publicly available data (not national biometrics databases), the chances of identifying child abusers would increase significantly.