UK Fighting Child Abuse with Big Data

Ares software at work. Photograph: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Over at the The Guardian, Owen Bowcott reports that software developed for the British Army to analyze human rights abuses in Iraq is now being used in the UK to fight child abuse, hate crimes, and cybercrime. Originally developed for the Royal Military Police, the Ares system uses Dell blade servers and AccessData software.

The new system has cut the costs of each investigation significantly,” said Major Keith Miller, commander of the RMP’s Service Police Crime Bureau. “It speeds up the whole process. On a child abuse case, if you bring people in who work together then you can reduce the psychological damage.”

Digital evidence is often involved in child pornography and abuse cases. Child pornography and abuse cases, often involves digital evidence. The Ares system has a large library of clips, and can identify pornographic material and can be automated. “In the past you had to sit down and watch a whole movie to check it hadn’t been spliced with something else. Now you can bring up the pictures quickly, display it frame by frame and see if it’s pornographic,” said Miller.

Miller is amazed at how many people believe deleted material cannot be recovered. “We have brought back a lot of stuff and seen people changing not guilty pleas,” he said. Miller also notes the attachment to physical paperwork displayed by defense lawyers. “We come up against some people who insist on taking paper evidence. I dump it all on them but the data sets now are so large they rarely ask for it in that format again.”

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