Child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, refers to imagery and videos of children (appearing to be) engaged in a sexual activity. Unfortunately, CSAM is a large problem in our digital world. The number of CSAM cases keeps growing as offenders find new ways of creating and distributing illegal material. This leads to countless problems. From revictimization to untraceable content, CSAM investigation is one of the core pillars in keeping the internet safe. Many professionals work on finding and eliminating CSAM every day. Our goal is to empower investigators, so cases get tackled faster in our joint fight against CSAM.
The CSAM investigation process
CSAM investigation is a broad term. It covers everything, from getting search warrants to preparing court documents. Various organizations collaborate on investigations, using a range of tools and solutions. A CSAM investigation can begin with reports from the public or industry providers. It can also start with an authorized search warrant. Local law enforcement obtains these warrants through the court before searching a suspect’s home for evidence.
After collecting the evidence, digital forensic investigation specialists extract and preserve the material to ensure its integrity. An important part of this process is creating forensic copies. Analysts and investigators use these copies to analyze the digital material and continue the CSAM investigation. Forensic video analysis and image forensics tools are used to classify material and find the content that matters.
When illegal material is found, it is time for the next step. If new or unknown victims are part of the material, victim identification specialists get involved. They work to identify victims and save them from abuse. If an investigation has revealed a larger network, multidisciplinary teams collaborate. They find and identify new offenders, and work together on an international scale.
Once the main part of a CSAM investigation is finished, the evidence is documented. A detailed report is prepared and shared with the public prosecutor. The information contained in the report is pivotal in prosecuting and sentencing offenders. Before closing a CSAM investigation, it may be necessary to provide support to the victim and take preventative measures.
Challenges of CSAM investigation
Due to the explicit nature of the material, CSAM investigations need qualified experts. These people are trained in digital forensic investigation techniques and know how to handle CSAM material discreetly. The rapid growth of CSAM is a global concern as the rate of CSAM flagged by law enforcement grows at 51% per year. The technological knowledge of offenders plays a large part in this. Online platforms and P2P networks allow them to access and distribute CSAM without getting caught. As a result, both the number of cases and the amount of material increase in CSAM investigations. This puts more pressure on investigators to work quickly without missing what matters, making technical tools necessary to ease their work.
The impact of CSAM investigation
Many CSAM investigations are successfully conducted every day. The impact of these is huge. The positives of CSAM investigation are clear. Seizing and deleting CSAM materials prevents revictimization. Victim identification efforts save many victims from active abuse. And by identifying and cataloging known material, new investigations keep speeding up. This way, the fight against CSAM becomes stronger every day.
ZiuZ Forensic Investigation
At ZiuZ Forensic Investigation, we aim to strengthen the fight against CSAM and make a positive impact worldwide. We create state-of-the-art tools to empower investigators and analysts to do their work not just well, but fast. By handling more reports and cases, the positive impact of CSAM investigation grows. Want to know more about what we do and how we make a difference? Read about our partner projects or Fenoz.