Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $900,000)
The internet provides a main mechanism for global communication and commerce. As such, offenders can easily access youth, groom and solicit them for personal or commercial sex. The possession, distribution and manufacture of child sexual abuse material not only victimizes the children, but also serves to fuel the fetishes of sex offenders who have a predilection for preying upon children. This rapid proliferation in the use of technology to facilitate crimes against children pose unique challenges for law enforcement, many of which can only be mitigated through access to investigative and forensic tools which provide technological solutions. Once developed, these tools must continually adapt and evolve in response to ever-changing offender behavior and advancements in technology to remain effective.
One such widely used investigative tool is ICACCOPS, whose enhancements are the focus of this proposal. The ICACCOPS system, which was established in 2008, is a widely used and highly effective investigative platform. It provides a set of tools, technology and services to help with investigations of offenders using peer-to-peer files sharing networks, the dark net, and chat technologies to exploit children. It also provides forensic tools to help investigators and forensic examiner quick parse through vast amounts of digital data.
The goal of this project is the continued enhancement and advancement of the ICACCOPS Investigative System.
Objectives include the following: (1) Add functionality to the ICACCOPS investigative system; (2) Increase the effectiveness of five peer-to-peer investigative tools; (3) Increase the effectiveness of the dark net investigative tool; (4) Increase the number of offenders identified through these technologies; (5) Enhance Project VIC-US by increasing the number of users and the number of files in the hash set; (6) Upgrade ICACCOPS Hardware to improve system performance.
These proposed improvements to this system will increase the investigative, forensic and technological capacity of law enforcement and prosecutors as they respond to cases involving child pornography, exploitation and sex trafficking and at the same time reduce the vicarious trauma experienced by investigators and forensic examiners.