AFP child protection system online by year's end

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed yesterday that its Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) will be operational by the end of the year, as final tests are conducted on the platform.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed yesterday that its Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) will be operational by the end of the year, as final tests are conducted on the platform.

After announcing that it had begun rolling out CETS in March, the AFP has confirmed that the system will be fully deployed as part of its own operations by the end of 2008, with the expectation that it will be available to state and territory agencies in 2009.

"The AFP will host CETS on behalf of all Australian law enforcement agencies, which will access the database remotely over a secure connection," said an AFP spokesperson.

The system is currently in its late testing phase and work on finalising configuration of the software has begun, according to the spokesperson.

The CETS platform was developed by Microsoft in 2003 in response to the volume of data analysis required as part of investigations into online child pornography.

The system is now operational in eight other countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Italy, Romania, Spain and the UK.

"Microsoft has tailored this software specifically to this type of crime, there's a lot of capacity for database mining, IP tracking and all sorts of other information that people leave online," said Reece Kershaw, AFP agent and national coordinator of its Online Child Sex Exploitation Team (OCSET) in March, when the system's roll-out was announced.

An AFP spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au yesterday that work is also underway to establish a secure network between Federal offices and various state and territory agency offices in preparation for shared use of the system.

"Once this network is established and testing has been finalised, CETS will be rolled out immediately, with training to be provided to state and territory law enforcement and AFP staff," said the spokesperson, adding that training for members of the OCSET has already begun.

"[CETS] is a very, very useful tool to bring these types of offenders to justice. It's able to identify all kinds of linkages that lead to a successful investigation in real time and provides a forum to exchange that intelligence between agencies a lot faster," said OCSET national coordinator Kershaw.