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Contribution to Book
Seeing the forest through the trees: Identifying key players in online child sexual exploitation distribution networks
Cybercrime Through an Interdisciplinary Lens (2016)
  • Bryce Garreth Westlake, San Jose State University
  • Richard Frank, Simon Fraser University
The ever-increasing prevalence of child sexual exploitation material (CEM) in cyberspace requires that an interdisciplinary approach be adopted to improve combat efforts. Central to this is the incorporation of technologies that can reduce the physical, mental, and resource strain experienced by law enforcement, including intelligently automating some of the detection process, minimizing visual contact with CEM, and prioritizing targets. To maximize the impact of law enforcement activities against online CEM distribution, combat strategies need to be identified that allow social control agencies to see the ‘forest through the trees’ to target key players within the massive distribution chain. This paper focuses on identifying key players (i.e., public websites) within online CEM distribution networks, through the adaptation of a composite measure known as Network Capital (NC). We use a custom-designed webcrawler tool to automatically scan and collect information on websites with known CEM. We then incorporate quantity and quality of CEM material being distributed, network connectivity, geographical location and website operator information to create a formula to identify targets, sensitive to jurisdictional constraints. We also show how NC is malleable to the requirements of the researcher or social control agencies to emphasize specific combat priorities. 
  • child sexual exploitation,
  • child pornography,
  • webcrawler,
  • social network analysis,
  • network capital
Publication Date
December 8, 2016
Thomas J. Holt
Citation Information
Bryce Garreth Westlake and Richard Frank. "Seeing the forest through the trees: Identifying key players in online child sexual exploitation distribution networks" LondonCybercrime Through an Interdisciplinary Lens (2016) p. 189 - 209
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