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Advanced tools for fighting oNline Illegal TrAfficking

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ANITA (Advanced tools for fighting oNline Illegal TrAfficking)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-10-31

The main goal of the ANITA project is to collaborate with Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to design and develop a novel user-centred platform to support investigations on illegal trafficking activities in the context of the three selected use cases:
• Drugs, counterfeit/falsified medicines and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
• Weapons and firearms
• Trafficking related to terrorist activities and funding.

The consortium includes six Law Enforcement Agencies and collaborated with several network of practitioners, such as ENLETS, ENFSI, i-LEAD and ILEAnet and some security agencies like Europol, CEPOL, ENISA and Interpol. Leveraging on LEAs’ experience and expertise, ANITA has delivered technological solutions with significant impact on illegal trafficking investigations and contributed on increasing knowledge on the phenomenon. The results have been presented to the community of practitioners during the two ANITA workshops (on the 21st of May and on the 12th of October of 2021) and debated with LEAs and security agencies during two thematic focus groups organised on the 30th of April and the 18th of May.
All the ANITA components and modules have been deployed both on a cloud relevant environment and on premise of some LEAs of the consortium and have been fully tested, validated and evaluated in two rounds of pilots in terms of effectiveness and efficiency according to the selected validation criteria and the KPIs defined in the project.
An accurate market analysis and an exploitation and sustainability plan for both the individual separate tools and services as well as the integrated system provided an encouraging basis for future exploitation opportunities of the ANITA assets under multiple paths.
The synergy between the scientific approach (led by criminology) and the development of advanced technological tools (the ANITA platform) was explored to use the ANITA platform and its innovative tools not only for the investigation, monitoring and intelligence, but also for education and capacity building, balancing the ‘technological factor’ and the ‘human factor’, thus improving the sustainability and the exploitation of the results achieved by the project.
ANITA has delivered an innovative knowledge-based user-centered investigation system for analysing heterogeneous online and offline data sources for fighting illegal trafficking activities through the design and development of: i) avant-garde data source analysis and blockchain technologies for the analysis of crypto-currency network and; ii) advanced Big Data analytics tools for the automatic extraction and analysis of the vast amounts of multimodal multimedia content contained in the identified sources; iii) sophisticated methodologies for capturing, modelling, inferring, processing and storing knowledge in human understandable forms (e.g. expressive high-level semantic ontologies); iv) domain-related and user-oriented intelligence applications, able to provide users with interactive dashboards to explore, reconstruct and identify patterns for spatial, temporal and causal correlations among illegal trafficking events, entities and activities and to support decision-making processes for countermeasures to undertake.
All these functionalities are coupled and reinforced by an in-depth interdisciplinary analysis of the online illegal trafficking phenomenon and a thorough analysis of the online resources with respect to social, ethical, legal and privacy issues of concern. The proposed system capabilities have been demonstrated in multiple relevant and operational environments.
ANITA exploitation activities and findings suggest that the consortium has worked in the right direction in order to offer innovative solutions for a promising market characterized by high demand and growth for the next years. The market analysis on key segments and sectors related to ANITA relevant markets indicates an increasing potential; encouraging signals come also from the focus of the application of such solutions in new domains and industries. Exploitation must not only target sole assets owned by individual partners, but also the cross-exploitation of the integrated and innovative ANITA platform as a whole.
In order to meet the specific objectives for ANITA, significant work has been carried out during the project towards the achievement of planned objectives: in particular, ANITA has contributed to the enhancing of investigation analytics services for Deep Web and Dark Nets by developing and delivering secure environment for extracting information from Darknets; dedicated crawlers; improvements and enhancement implemented according to the feedback from end-users; and their integration with the central platform. Accurate and efficient Big Data analytics services were also released combining a set of visual analytics with algorithms for text/visual/trend/translation analysis, visual indexing and speech to text.
Progress beyond SOTA concerned also the automated domain knowledge collection, modelling, sharing and reasoning capabilities to support LEAs activities based on i) ANITA completed set of ontologies modeling the domain knowledge for the use cases; ii) a completed set of ontologies enabling the semantic interoperability; iii) specific services to store, search and retrieve relevant entities, events and activities in a dedicated Knowledge Graph. Furthermore, the ANITA criminological analysis reports and recommendations has contributed to a better understanding of the phenomenon and its route causes and defining efficient counter measures and policy making acts. All this research progress has allowed ANITA tools and services to reach TRL7.
As far as social, ethical, privacy and legal requirements, ANITA adheres completely with technical and organizational requirements for compliance with the principle of data protection by design, GDPR and cybersecurity legal framework.
In terms of the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of ANITA, Ethics and Privacy Impact Assessment has been made ensuring that activities performed throughout the project’s lifecycle adhere to the highest European Union ethical, privacy and data protection standards. In addition, a LEAs cooperation policy has been released in order to tackle the issue of misuse, and to facilitate the LEAs in addressing known issues related to the proper collaboration necessary to carry out procedures for compliance with data protection legislation. Guidelines for curricula development were designed with the intent to contribute at promoting innovative educational paths, oriented primarily to LEAs to increase awareness, knowledge and the exchange of good practices.
ANITA Manifesto