SXSW 2021

Crypto and Crime: Child Sexual Abuse Imagery


Cryptocurrency has an Achilles’ heel. It can democratize finance, but it is favored by criminals for being both anonymous like cash and usable online. This dark side erodes public trust and enables terrible crimes, including distribution of child sexual abuse material. Internet CSAM images have exploded, rising 15,000% in 15 years. They are usually bartered, but increasingly are bought with cryptocurrency, leaving ever more children captive and abused.
However, anonymous is not the same as undetectable. In 2020, AIR convened crypto companies, banks, law enforcement, regulators and child advocates for a weeklong hackathon to create high-tech ways to find these payments. This panel tells the story of what they built.

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  1. CSAM is linked to global human trafficking that holds 10 million children captive in modern slavery. Learn how investigators can curtail this crime.
  2. The early roots of cryptocurrency attracted high crime, but modern crypto firms want to win the public’s trust. This panel illustrates that effort.
  3. New technology is flooding our lives with good things and bad things. This panel shows how technology, itself, can sometimes help remove the bad.



Lexi Frazier, Chief of Staff, Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR)

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