SIGNIFICANCE. STOP ILLICIT HERITAGE TRAFFICKING WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Social Media Intelligence, Dark Web, Illicit Traffic, Cultural Heritage
Abstract. The inability to prevent or eliminate illicit trafficking of cultural goods is not limited to failed-state environments or any specific part of the globe. While the antiquities market denies that this illicit trade is a widespread phenomenon, the international community and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) overwhelmingly recognize the problem indicating that organized crime is involved at all stages. Nowadays, web platforms play host to groups dedicated to illegal archaeological excavations and Illicit trade of cultural goods. Looters have the freedom to connect online with potential buyers around the world. At the same time, social media platform monitoring in search of criminal activities conducted by LEAs is poor due to the lack of expertise, efficient tools to scan the massive amounts of data, and funds. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the problem by driving more and more dealers and buyers online – where they are discovering that by joining certain unmonitored groups, they can enter the illegal market with ease. The EU funded SIGNIFICANCE project (Stop Illicit heritaGe traffickiNg wIth artiFICiAl iNtelligenCE) has been designed to boost LEAs investigation capabilities in monitoring online illegal activities on social media platforms, the web and the dark web for the identification of cultural property crimes, exploiting Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning algorithms for guaranteeing the successful prosecution of perpetrators unveiling criminal networks.