Full Access to Austin Berrier
Live streamed and victim-generated abuse imagery was already on the rise before the pandemic and has exploded in the last couple of years. Unless someone made the overt choice to memorialize it, the content is gone once the stream is turned off. Scores of apps have a live streaming component, even those that aren’t marketed as live streaming. Children can video chat with people worldwide and be groomed and coerced to produce CSAM. Often the offender isn’t in the room with the victim.
This episode’s guest, Austin Berrier, is a Special Agent at Homeland Security Investigations in the Cyber Crimes Division. The conversation covers his expertise in investigating human trafficking and the live streaming of sexual abuse of children. Austin also shares insight into the legal aspects of live streaming abuse investigations and some of the technical aspects of investigating this crime.
[01:13] Profile of this episode’s guest: Austin Berrier
- Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations since 2003
- Currently assigned to the Cyber Crimes Division of HSI Phoenix, AZ
- Primarily focuses on child sexual abuse and exploitation investigations
- Live streaming and victim generated abuse imagery was on the rise before the pandemic, but has exploded over the last couple of years.
[08:03] Live streaming and victim generated abuse
- Children are being groomed and coerced to produce child sexual abuse material.
- In these situations, the adult is typically not present in the room.
- Mobile devices enable content to be generated at a moment’s notice.
- Children don’t start understanding the consequences until their mid 20s.
[13:56] Most commonly, children aren’t found until after.
- The Internet Watch Foundation found that 100% of victim generated content had been harvested from its original place.
- About 40-50% of content now is victim generated
- Prevention starts with education of parents and children
- Technology is being developed for monitoring in real-time
[21:12] The goal is to remove the child from the situation.
- HSI is victim-centric
- Offenders will often have 10, 15, or 20 kids on the hook
- Children don’t always self-identify as a victim
[34:27] Statutes need to change regarding to live viewing without downloading
- The fixation on collection size and number of files ignores the fact that someone can log in and watch without downloading
- A case in New York determined they couldn’t charge with possession because the individual had viewed and not downloaded the images.
- Possession in these situations needs to be redefined
- Should an investigator record for evidence when they find a live stream, or is that generating child pornography?
[44:35] Live streaming platforms will be utilized for the foreseeable future
- Devices are advanced and data is cheap
- Social media status is highly regarded among children
- Law enforcement uses Android and iPhone emulators when possible for evidence capture
- Tools are being developed that would automate things that are currently done manually
[51:21] Preventing the abuse from occurring
- Big tech needs to have honest conversations about preventing criminal use of their products
- Tech and law enforcement need to work together
- If big tech self police then big government doesn’t have to intervene
- IWF has a resource for parents talking to their kids about internet safety
- The Canadian Centre for Child Protection made an internet safety video using comedy
[58:47] The hot sauce challenge and contact information