We have developed software for Sweetie 2.0, a project by Terre des Hommes to stop webcam child sex abuse. We have been selected by Terre des Hommes because of our proven track record in developing easy to use investigative software, background in forensics, security & artificial intelligence and ability to design and implement scalable, robust and easy to maintain software. The software will be developed as a separate solution. The underlying technology will be available as a new Cyber Agent Technology platform that can potentially be integrated in custom projects for other customers.
The Sweetie 2.0 software will be used for mapping, measuring and combating online child abuse. One of the most innovative functions is the automation of responsive communications with online chat partners through a personified chat robot in various communication channels. This is a virtualized minor child (aka Sweetie) who will engage in a dialogue using a chatbot facility and 3D imagery, in which all the chats are analyzed by the underlying frame work and that recognizes ‘online predators’ by the way of rapprochement. The chat logs are stored and exchanged data are processed per chat to a profile for each chat partner. This profile can ultimately be used to identify repetitive patterns. University studies will be conducted during the first few months of the project, that investigate the best ways to respond to persons who make indecent proposals towards a decidedly minor.
Chatbot Artificial Intelligence
A chatbot character is being built based on the experiences, work instructions and chat logs from project “Sweetie 1.0” that was conducted in 2013. Using results from the past the conversation model will simulate as realistically as possible a fictitious 10/11-year-old girl. The visual imagery has been further refined, and at a later stage new characters will be constructed (gender / race / …). An important aspect of the conversation model is that it should have a strategy to determine if a chat partner has wrong intentions and if so, to obtain additional information that can be used to send him an intervention message afterwards.
The chat function of the chat robot is verified during the project, in both private as well as public appearances. Depending on the outcomes of these tests it may be decided that the automatic chat function needs to be supplemented with a manual function. This hybrid solution will enable ‘human operators’ to manually reply to questions that could not be answered by the chatbot. This may not be necessary if an acceptable level is achieved by carefully designing and implementing the various fictional characters and the associated question / answer database. The chat streams and ‘question / answer’ –pairs can be customized for each character after the chats to execute the chats as effectively and efficiently as possible for the time that they are in use.
Cyber Agent Technology
To use the chatbot functionality for the various communication platforms a Cyber Agent Technology platform has been built that interconnects all software components. These components include, but are not limited to:
- Automated chat functionality for the chat rooms and direct chat;
- functions to drive the generated imagery;
- management functionality for the chat rooms, characters, chat structure and corresponding ‘Question / answer’ combinations;
- storage of all chats and related details;
- processing of identifiable material from the chats for each chat partner;
- detection functionality to recognize repeating chat partners, indecent proposals / or explicit materials;
- dashboard for graphical presentation of all required actions, chat results, as well statistics for operational, tactical and strategic insight
- reporting module to confront chat partners who misbehave with their own behavior and chat phrases (offering help vs. deterring vs identification will result from university studies).
All chat reports and extracts of chats are logged in a universally accepted standard which facilitates the exchange of cases. This will consider generic storage methods used by various national and international (investigation) agencies such as Interpol and Europol in order to simplify matching with other (online) child abuse cases.
Proof of Concept and Live
For a short period, the implemented functionality will be tested in designated chat rooms under human supervision. This will be the first contact with the target group of the automated chatbot functionality. If results show that the intended audience accepts the chatbot as a real human chat partner the infrastructure will be expanded to monitor hundreds or thousands of chat rooms. Chat rooms can be added by operators from various sources and or individually customized. Results from these two phases will be shown in the developed dashboard that will be used for management or communication purposes. Statistics can be stored from the dashboard and can be used to verify the tactical and strategic impact of the deployment of the functionality gradually over time.
For law enforcement
Total duration of project Sweetie 2.0 is 2 years end will end in April 2017. After the project Terre des Hommes intends to offer the software to law enforcement agencies. We have many years of experience in delivering and maintaining software for law enforcement agencies all over the world. As such we will offer support and services to customize the software. The core frame work that has been developed for the Sweetie 2.0 project is separately available as a Cyber Agent Technology platform and can be used as a fundament for other similar solutions to target different problems.
About Sweetie 2.0
The figures are staggering: every single day hundreds of thousands of children are victims of webcam sex. The official estimate is that at any time of the day, over 750,000 men worldwide are looking for online sex with children in more than 40,000 public chat rooms.
The ‘Sweetie’ research, carried out at the end of 2013, showed the extent and nature of webcam child sex tourism worldwide. It also proved that a proactive approach works. The research has had many positive effects. It was followed by a global outrage which persuaded the United Nations to put the subject high on its agenda. In the Philippines, children were rescued from internet dens. However, this is not enough to put this phenomenon to a quick stop, says Terre des Hommes. Still, millions of potential perpetrators consider themselves undetected. It is still too easy to approach children for sex through the internet.
With its ‘Sweetie 2.0: stop webcam child sex’ campaign, Terre des Hommes takes it all a step further to eradicate webcam child sex once and for all. In a joint action with national and international specialists, Terre des Hommes is working on an innovative software system that can be implemented worldwide to combat webcam sex with children. This software is aimed at identifying and deterring millions of potential offenders. The system will be entirely aligned with national and international frameworks for investigation and prosecution. At the same time, we carry out extensive research into the impact of this preventive approach.
With Sweetie 2.0, Terre des Hommes and its partners, with the support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery and its participants, can prevent hundreds of thousands of children from becoming victim of this horrible form of sexual exploitation. After all, that’s Terre des Hommes’ main concern: to provide for children to grow up safely.
Other partners of the Sweetie 2.0 project from Terre des Hommes are the Department of Forensic Psychology of the University of Tilburg and the Department of eLaw of the University of Leiden. Tracks Inspector collaborates with Motek Entertainment on the visual imagery and with Ecreation Creative Solutions on the chatbot technology.