CSEM referrals require a new approach

There has been a 4000% increase in referrals since 2014. This sheer volume of data obtained in CSE cases stretches human resources, the limits of manual analysis beyond most LEAs reach. A new approach to managing, processing and analysing this content is necessary.

The sexual exploitation and abuse of children, the production of CSEM and subsequent distribution of this material via the internet is a shocking crime. Referrals from Online Service Providers (OSPs) are crucial to fighting CSE. Growth in the number of referrals of CSEM to LEAs is driven both by increased availability and distribution of online CSEM and improved detection and reporting processes. The extent of referrals is affecting LEAs' capacity to respond promptly, leading to an inability to prevent harm to infants and children, rescue those in immediate danger, and investigate and prosecute perpetrators.






EU Horizon Grant number


GRACE will apply proven techniques in machine learning (ML) to the referral and analysis process while embracing the technical, ethical and legal challenges unique to fighting CSE.

GRACE will leverage resources already in place at Europol and the nine MS LEAs within the consortium. The goal for GRACE is to attempt to provide results early, frequently and flexibly, prioritising easy wins in the research plan (e.g., deduplication).

Unique to GRACE is the development and application of a Federated Learning approach to the challenge of optimising analysis and information flow in a privacy-aware and security-sensitive manner. GRACE will enable cooperation between LEAs in improving their capabilities while harnessing their experiential knowledge.

The results of GRACE will be available to Europol and the Member State LEAs for unrestricted use in their operations, helping to ensure their future technological autonomy.

Core concepts

The core ambition for GRACE is to provide a European-wide platform that equips LEAs with advanced digital and analytical tools. GRACE aims to achieve significant operational value for LEAs through improving the investigative capabilities and responses to combatting online CSEM.

Address the volume and analyse the content of online CSEM through technological innovations.

Provide genuine operational value to LEAs in their investigation of online CSEM.

Impact at the strategic and policy level in the harmonisation of EU-wide responses to CSE.

Consortium Partners

The GRACE consortium brings together a set of organisations with the expertise to address the topic of online child sexual exploitation. The project responds to the EC H2020 call SU-FCT-02-2019 [Sub Topic 2: Digital forensics in the context of criminal investigations].

Grace partner map

More information?

Please visit the project website for more information about GRACE.

EU Project
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 883341.