Blockchain forensics are being harnessed in an effort to clamp down on the trade in images of child sex abuse on the dark web.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is teaming up with Elliptic, a UK blockchain intelligence start-up, in a bid to track individuals who use Bitcoin to pay for images of child sex abuse.
The IWF is providing Elliptic with its database of Bitcoin addresses associated with child sexual abuse content. Elliptic will integrate this data set into its transaction monitoring and investigation products, automatically alerting its financial institutions and law enforcement clients about sales of illicit content.
Elliptic works with the largest US and European Bitcoin exchanges and payment processors as well as Western law enforcement agencies.
Elliptic – whose technology uses machine learning and data analytics technologies – provides law enforcement and intelligence agencies with actionable evidence, it says, in cases where Bitcoin has been used to fund crimes.
The IWF has identified more than 68,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images. UNICEF Malaysia estimates two million children across the globe are affected by sexual exploitation every year.
Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO, said, “Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing amount of Bitcoin activity connected to purchasing child sexual abuse material online. Our new partnership with Elliptic is imperative to helping us tackle this criminal use of Bitcoin.”
The collaboration means Elliptic’s clients will be able to automatically monitor transactions they handle for any connection to proceeds of child sex abuse.
In addition, Elliptic is working closely with IWF’s hotline team to implement joint best practices for identifying and preserving evidence of illicit Bitcoin activity. ®