Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet

Monday, January 28, 2019 - 9:30 am10:00 am

Elie Bursztein, Google


A critical part of child sexual abuse criminal world is the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse imagery (CSAI) on the Internet. To combat this crime efficiently and illuminate current defense short-coming, it is vital to understand how CSAI content is disseminated on the Internet. Despite the importance of the topic very little work was done on the subject so far.

To fill this gap and provide a comprehensive overview of the current situation we conducted the first longitudinal measurement study of CSAI distribution across the Internet. In collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)—a United States clearinghouse for all CSAI content detected by the public and US Internet services—we examined the metadata associated with 23.4M CSAI incidents of CSAI from the 1998–2017 period.

This talk starts by summarizing the key insights we garnered during this study about how CSAI content distribution evolved. In particular we will cover how Internet technologies have exponentially accelerated the pace of CSAI content creation and distribution to a breaking point in the manual review capabilities of NCMEC and law enforcement.

Then we will delve into the most pressing challenges that need to be addressed to be able to keep up with the steady increase of CSAI content and outline promising directions to help meet those challenges.

Elie Bursztein, Google

Elie Bursztein leads Google's anti-abuse research, which helps protect users against Internet threats. Elie has contributed to applied-cryptography, machine learning for security, malware understanding, and web security; authoring over fifty research papers in the field for which he was awarded 5 best papers awards and multiple industry distinctions. Most recently, he was involved in finding the first SHA-1 collision. Elie is a beret aficionado, blog at, tweets @elie, and performs magic tricks in his spare time. Born in Paris, he received a Ph.D from ENS-cachan in 2008 before working at Stanford University and ultimately joining Google in 2011. He now lives with his wife in Mountain View, California.

@conference {226363,
author = {Elie Bursztein},
title = {Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet},
year = {2019},
address = {Burlingame, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

Presentation Video