Meet the team: Shaunagh Downing
By Shaunagh Downing
The end of 2022 is fast approaching, and its nearly time to change calendars to the start of another exciting year. Before this happens though, we thought that we’d take a quick look back at the past year, making a note of how we as a company and team, as well as the wider tech landscape, have grown.
This year has seen tremendous shifts in the capabilities of image processing, and tragic incidents have sparked conversations surrounding the responsibility of social media platforms when it comes to the harm they may cause.
From the introduction of new digital privacy regulations to the introduction of two new team members here at CameraForensics, we’re reviewing it all below.
The technology landscape changed in so many ways over the past year, bringing more applications and new trends to our screens.
With these innovations, we’ve seen how users and developers have increased their activity and awareness surrounding the potential of online harm.
With worrying trends indicating that popular apps are enabling the coercion of self-generated material, some tech providers such as Snapchat are now being more proactive in creating safe spaces with increased parental controls, visibility, and educational tools.
This comes alongside an increased focus on protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII), driven by new regulations in the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA). As more of these become enforceable, we’re expecting to see the next year continuing to focus into mainstream conversation.
2022 has seen a new wave of evolutions within the image forensics field, as developers look to the potential of advanced Machine Learning and AI tools to expedite investigations.
Investigative journalist group Bellingcat recently demonstrated the power of image forensics in their efforts to aid Ukraine. In their investigations, they detailed how they used image forensics to deanonymise those responsible for developing Russia’s cruise missiles and identifying the soldiers who mutilated and executed a Ukrainian captive.
This conflict also prompted a sharp spike in targeted trafficking activity – with many vulnerable refugees arriving at the border to foreign countries without a plan or shelter. During our recent visit to the Tech Against Trafficking conference in Seattle, we learned how organisations, such as Commit Global are creating a single platform for refugees to get valuable resources, information, and the aid that they critically need, were tackling this rising issue by.
While these developments do mark great progress in the fight against major international challenges, they also represent the need to continue developing new innovative solutions.
This year has also seen our team, and mission, continue to grow. Earlier in the year, we announced our joint PhD programme with PIER, aimed at understanding the trajectory of illicit imagery online. We have also developed two other exciting products behind the scenes (more info on these in the future).
Collaborating with our partners, David Ranner and I were lucky enough to be featured on the first episode of Global Emancipation Network’s new podcast, Finding Freedom, to discuss these issues in a completely new format. Throughout the year, this continued as we took part in conferences and explored topics ranging from deepfakes to modern slavery in our blog.
We also welcomed two fantastic new starters to our team. Chaz Hickman joined us as a new data engineer, while Shaunagh Downing became the newest member of our R&D department.
Most importantly, we’ve been able to hear some amazing stories about how our tools have helped investigators successfully and efficiently identify victims. These stories are truly inspiring to us. They motivate us to continue building new tools and processes that drive change and empower our users.
2022 has been a tremendously busy, and exciting, year for our team – giving us the chance to work on several R&D projects and play a role in global discourse. As we look ahead to the new year, we’re looking forward to beginning our work on several new products and projects, and hope that with our expanding team we can play a greater role than ever in the fight against online exploitation.
In the meantime, you can visit our blog to discover our full range of image processing and digital forensics insights.