Maharashtra Police: Operation Blackface, TRACE and Crawler

Context in Current Affairs: The cyber wing of Maharashtra police has recently acquired a software called the “Crawler” from the INTERPOL that will help to track down child pornography. A core unit of 12 officers has been formed to implement a mission involving the software. These twelve officers went for training to the South Asian wing of INTERPOL. The unit has been named TRACE. TRACE is Tactical Response Against Cyber Child Exploitation.

What is Crawler software?

The software acquired from INTERPOL uses various mechanism such as detecting nudity in images and to recognise the age of the person through their facial structures. It has an inbuilt algorithm that will look for keywords such as child pornography. The algorithm will then track the forums that indulge in these crimes using the keywords.

What is TRACE?

The TRACE unit was set up as a part of a larger campaign against the Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) across the country since 2019. The team recently trained around 270 policemen across Maharashtra in the use of this software to track these cases.

The Maharashtra cyber cops have begun to forward the complaints to the districts where FIRs are registered. So far around 50 persons have been placed under arrest.

Child Sexual Abuse Material

India received a boost against the child sexual abuse material after the National Centre for Missing and Exploited children, a Non Governmental organisation based in the United States began to share its tips about fighting against child pornography. Through the joint venture between the National Crime Records Bureau and the NGO,  a collection of tips to track Child pornography was created and passed on to the states. With this between September 2019 and January 2020 around 25,000 cases of child pornography were reported. Delhi topped the list followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal .

Operation Blackface

It is a part of the actions taken by the Maharashtra State Police against Child Sexual Abuse Material. The operation is to use the Crawler software and to deploy the TRACE team.

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