Interpol database ICSE: CBI's new weapon to fight online sexual abuse of children

The International Child Sexual Exploitation database uses video and image comparison to analyse child sexual exploitation material & make connections between victims, abusers and places, Interpol said

DW Photo
DW Photo


The CBI has joined Interpol's International Child Sexual Exploitation database accessible to select countries, giving the investigative agency sharper snooping abilities to identify abusers, victims and crime scene from audiovisual clips on Internet using specialised softwares, officials said on Monday.

India is the 68th country among the total 295 members of the Interpol to have access to this database and software, which will be available to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) -- nodal body for Interpol coordination in India as it is the country's National Central Bureau, they said.

An intelligence and investigative tool, the database, on an average, helps identify seven child victims everyday globally using audiovisual clips which are reported by various sources, including social media giants and search engines, they said.

So far, it has identified over 30,000 victims of child abuse and over 13,000 criminals.

The International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database uses video and image comparison to analyse child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) and make connections between victims, abusers and places, the Interpol said.

The database also allows specialised investigators to share information on cases of child sexual abuse.

Using the image and video comparison software, the investigators can nail down the criminals by identifying victims and places of crime.

"The database avoids duplication of effort and saves precious time by letting investigators know whether a series of images has already been discovered or identified in another country, or whether it has similar features to other images," according to Interpol.

The detectives in all 68 countries of the grouping can exchange information and notes with their colleagues across the world.

"By analysing the digital, visual and audio content of photographs and videos, victim identification experts can retrieve clues, identify any overlap in cases and combine their efforts to locate victims of child sexual abuse," the Interpol web site said.

India reported over 24 lakh instances of online child sexual abuse during the three year period 2017-20, with 80 per cent of victims being girls below the age of 14 years, according to the Interpol data.

The data indicates content and consumers of CSEM are growing at a sharp rate with one finding saying that 1.16 lakh queries on child pornography were made on a single internet search engine.

The CBI has set up a special unit 'Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/Investigation (OCSAE)' which tracks and monitors posting, circulation and downloads of CSEM on the internet.

Based on intelligence developed by the unit, the CBI had started a countrywide operation against the alleged peddlers of online CSEM in India last year, with the role of several websites under the scanner for their liability in hosting such material, officials said.

In its massive crackdown across 14 states, the probe agency had carried out searches at 77 locations and arrested seven people in an operation launched on November 14, Children's Day, last year.

The search operation on 83 accused had resulted in seizure of huge tranche of electronic data and gadgets showing patterns of money trail and involvement of various offenders giving fresh leads to the agency which are being pursued, they said.

The operation had targeted over 50 social media groups having more than 5,000 alleged offenders sharing child sexual abuse material with some accused based in Pakistan, Canada, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ajarbaijan, Sri Lanka, the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Ghana, among others.

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