Technology Helps Global Authorities Bring Child Pornography Ring to Justice

Posted by Tim Cranton 
Associate General Counsel

There is news from Edinburgh today of guilty verdicts for leaders of the largest child pornography ring ever broken-up in Scotland.  As the BBC News explains, a single image found on a computer led to literally thousands of others, shared through the Internet by at least 200 pedophiles around the world. 

I am grateful for the verdicts and the prospect of more arrests and convictions, but obviously this is not a cause for celebration.  These are horrific cases, due to the nature of the images and the devastation to the victims and their families.  Our thoughts are with them as they grapple with the impact these events have had on their lives and, hopefully, begin to heal.

Thanks are due to the prosecution and to law enforcement in the UK and around the world for the painstaking and determined detective and legal work that led to convictions.  The investigation was truly global – images from Scotland were distributed to pedophiles in at least five other countries, including the U.S.  The case shows why global coordination by law enforcement is so important when dealing with crimes like these. 

Kudos are also deserved for the tough, clear laws on child pornography that carry strong sentences in the U.K.  We affirm the principle prosecutors expressed during the trial, that each image itself represents a severe and violent act of child abuse that deserves swift justice.

Technology is essential in solving these crimes.  In this case, the technical expertise of academics Hany Farid of Dartmouth College, Miroslav Goljan of Binghamton University, and Susan Black of the University of Dundee in Scotland was central to establishing the link between the perpetrators and the images of abuse.

Along with the experts at the U.K.’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and Serious Organized Crime Agency, the FBI, INTERPOL and some of the world’s leading academics on image forensics, Microsoft also assisted the investigation.  With these and other partners, we share a steadfast commitment to the protection of children.  Whether through our training sessions or the use of our technology tools, we’ve come to know and respect the people on the front lines in the fight for online family safety.  In our view, they rank among the world’s unsung heroes.

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