Project Vic is an archiving system that is being implemented across UK, US, and Australia to images seized in sexual abuse cases. This system will compare all of images to those already stored and will flag up any new images.
The project is a collaboration between the US Department of Homeland Security and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the UK.
Currently it is averaged that Homeland security seizes “petabytes” of data every year
The Project Vic uses service providers such as Netclean, Hubstream to categorize images and documents. This allows them to identify and isolate unique material quickly and produce a unique summary or “hash” for each new item.
James Cole, a national programme manager at Homeland Security, said “We have issues with deconflicting investigations and also big issues with the amount of data that we are seizing…The idea is to allow law enforcement to run data against hash sets that are immediately available through cloud services,”
The key idea behind this project is efficiency. Cole explained, “they can interrogate that data in real time and know a lot of things about it very quickly…When material is produced you hope to trace it back to an offender and stop them producing or having further opportunities to exploit the child. We are making great strides in how we do that.”
Rich Brown from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, said “Project Vic represents the largest movement of its kind to change the way investigators approach this crime set…In well over 90% of our cases there’s no money changing hands… It’s the material itself that is highly desirable for offenders. Money does not come into play.”
New material has the highest value among abusers and it is crucial to identify as soon as possible. Once identified, investigators can focus their attention on looking for the latest abused child and work towards freeing them.
“The way we identify and rescue these children is by putting all that related information together,” he said.
Unfortunately, he added, the images are not enough to go on and nothing more can be done. “Sometimes,” he said, “the clues are just not there.”