Talking Tech with Child Rescue Coalition
- By Nancy Dahlberg and Joe Russo, Palm Beach Tech
- June 6, 2018
In its mission to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, the Child Rescue Coalition has assisted in the arrest of more than 10,000 online predators and the rescues of over 2,300 abused children in the last four years.
Now that’s impact.
Using technology for good is what CRC is all about. CRC’s Child Protection System, used by law enforcement officials in all 50 states and 84 countries, allows law enforcement to track predators, monitor their activities, prevent potential assaults and make arrests. The Boca Raton-based nonprofit partners with law enforcement to get its technology into the hands of the crime fighters.
And it is a huge mission. Each year, more than 300,000 children are abused in the U.S. alone. Predators leverage social media, chat applications and the Dark Web to target and coerce children. As many as 85 percent of online offenders viewing child sexual exploitation material are also sexually abusing children, according to CRC’s research.
Over the last year in Palm Beach County alone, CRC’s tech has identified 45 targets, or individual IP addresses, in possession of illegal child pornography. CRC has seen 2,721 total targets statewide. Globally, the nonprofit’s technology has tracked 54 million offenders.
“We have made a good name for ourselves in the law enforcement community. They know us and love us and use our technology,” said Carly Asher Yoost, CEO and founder of CRC. “The most exciting thing is seeing it is really working. It’s not just us talking about a problem or trying to do something, it really is proactively putting a stop to it.”
CRC’s story begins well before 2013, when the nonprofit was founded. The technology was originally created by a team of law enforcement. Yoost’s father, the late data technologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Hank Asher, heard about the work they were doing and was impressed that it was identifying and catching child predators. It was always his passion to keep children safe from sexual exploitation, his daughter said.
Asher brought the whole team to his company, TLO, in Boca Raton in 2008 and funded development of the tool that is still being used today.
When Asher unexpectedly passed away in early 2013, Yoost and her sister led the 140-employee TLO and sold it to Transunion. But in the sale, they kept the technology that had been saving children and identifying child predators and transitioned to a nonprofit, CRC. Since then, CRC has nearly tripled the number of countries that use the technology.
“It was always free for law enforcement to use, and after selling the company and our father’s passing we wanted it to continue to be free,” said Yoost. “We continue to evolve the technology and keep it cutting edge.”
The nonprofit has attracted a host corporate sponsors including Transunion, which also provides office space for CRC, Yoost said. “We do events called Blankets and Bear Hugs, where the community comes in and makes care packages containing a homemade blanket, a coloring book that says police officers are my friends, and a teddy bear. Police officers can keep the care packages in the trunks of their cars to give to kids at a scene of crimes.”
CRC is hosting an open Blankets and Bear Hugs event for the community August 4 in its offices. Register here.
A trend in the nonprofit world is to develop a revenue-generating strategy so a nonprofit doesn’t have to rely only on grants and sponsors. CRC is doing this too.
While the core technology will always be free for law enforcement, CRC is now exploring allowing companies, such as online baby-sitter services, to use it for a fee, Yoost said. “Anytime someone pops up with an IP address that we saw as trading child pornography, we can alert them to that.”
In addition, CRC is developing a new forensics tool that it will charge for. Once officers have made the arrest and seized the suspect’s devices, they can run CRC’s new application to help them find the illegal files, even if the suspect deleted them. The tool should be available later this year.
These revenue streams are important because the biggest challenge of running the nonprofit has been funding, Yoost said.
“If we had more funding we could make a bigger impact, but I am very thankful for the support we have received. We would love introductions to corporations that want to find out what we do.”