Researchers in Simon Fraser University's International Cybercrime Research Centre are expanding their Child Exploitation Network Extractor (CENE)an online "web crawler" that identifies and tracks child exploitation networks onlineto determine where networks are located.
They've secured a grant from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) through its inaugural Community Investment Program. It's one of 28 projects shortlisted from 149 submissions to share more than $1 million in funding.
CIRA seeks to build a stronger internet in Canada by providing funding for community groups, not-for-profits and academic institutions for projects deemed to enhance the internet for the benefit of all Canadians.
At present, CENE enables researchers to track online child exploitation (CE) networksa series of websites that are hyperlinked through URLs and lead consumers of CE content from one website to another.
Through the web crawler, researchers can download webpages and recursively follow their links, while collecting statistics on the content, keywords, images and videos.
"This allows for automatic identification of sites that contain CE content, without having users to view the content," says CENE's co-developer Richard Frank, an assistant professor in SFU's School of Criminology. "Through collaborations with the RCMP, their database of CE-image identifiers was integrated into CENE, allowing CENE to detect known CE images."
Previous research in online CE was aimed at developing and testing CENE to collect data on websites that disseminate CE content. Researchers found it was possible to map the networks of CE websitesa measure called "network capital"and take into account both the harmful nature of website content and their connectivity.
They also discovered that "bridges" between otherwise unconnected parts of the network lead to the most damage, and that many of the millions of images seized by
|Contact: Richard Frank|
Simon Fraser University