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    IWF Chief Technology Officer Dan Sexton

    Harnessing innovative tech to advance our mission

    2022 was a tumultuous year for the internet, one that showed how the IWF’s mission to see an internet free of child sexual abuse is never more important.

    Developments such as the metaverse, rapid growth in cryptocurrencies and decentralisation, greater levels of encryption, and ongoing efforts around the world to introduce regulations to combat online harms, have resulted in a constantly evolving and shifting landscape.

    We have seen exciting new developments in online safety to detect and prevent abuse at scale, such as new machine learning tools and privacy preserving filtering tools, but also worrying trends and technologies which have the potential to create new harms and put more children at risk.

    As the scale of the problem continues to grow, the IWF technology team has developed new tools to enable our expert human analysts to find and assess more content with greater accuracy than ever before, including leveraging GPU-accelerated (Graphics Processing Unit) computer vision techniques to cluster near duplicate images, web processing tools which can instantly highlight known child abuse images as soon as they appear on the page, and to detect and split the individual frames used to make collages or grid images.

    In addition to supporting the core work of our Hotline, the tech team have also been working with IWF Members on bespoke projects to develop and test new innovative technology, leveraging the IWF’s unique expertise with child sexual abuse content and rich tagged datasets.

    The team has worked on and supported incredible developments such as the IWF reThink Chatbot, the SafetoWatch image classifier, and the privacy preserving Cyacomb safety tool, solutions which are pushing the boundaries of what technology can do to detect and disrupt the distribution and access of child sexual abuse material online.