Crowdsourcing to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation: Europol’s ‘Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object’ Platform

Ethem Ilbiz, Christian Kaunert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the crowdsourcing model of Europol’s ‘Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object’ (SCATO) platform for collecting tips provided by the public to tackle online child sexual exploitation. The article investigates the platform’s effectiveness through three sharing economy/crowdsourcing variables: low barrier accessibility of public to the platform, transaction cost associated with the intelligence gathering from public and establishing trust between public and police departments. Based on Europol documents and semi-structured interviews with senior law enforcement agency (LEA) officers and representatives of non-governmental organisations, the article's core argument is that the SCATO provides a low barrier entry for the crowd to share tips with LEAs. However, to reduce the transaction cost of intelligence gathering, the item pictures shared on the platform should stimulate high-value reporting without compromising the victim's anonymity. The platform also needs a clear guideline and feedback mechanisms to encourage more public contributions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicing: A Journal of Policy and Practice
Issue number00
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2023


  • Crowdsourcing
  • public-private partnership
  • Europol
  • cybercrime
  • online child sexual exploitation material


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