Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
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Tackling the commercial side of child sex abuse
New European Financial Coalition to track and disrupt the commercial element behind child sex abuse images
Major financial, internet and technology corporations have joined forces with international policing agencies, the European Commission and specialist child protection NGOs to track and disrupt child sex offenders through the money they make.
Led by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre - the UK's dedicated policing organisation for protecting children from sexual exploitation - and funded by the European Commission, the new European Financial Coalition (EFC) will bring together an increasing number of organisations from across all key sectors to send out a stark warning to criminals who seek to make money from the distribution of child sex abuse images.
MasterCard, Microsoft, PayPal, VISA Europe and the NGO Missing Children Europe are amongst the founding members of the new coalition and are joined by Allen and Overy and ICMEC - the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children as advisory members to the EFC.
On the law enforcement side of the EFC, founding members also include Europol, who are working with the CEOP team to deliver a European-wide policing response, and the Italian National Postal and Communication Police who are close allies of the UK national centre as both are part of an international alliance of law enforcement agencies under the banner of the Virtual Global Taskforce.
The objective of the EFC is to bring together all stakeholder groups engaged in the fight against the commercial distribution of child abuse images in order to facilitate and support pan-European police operations, with cross-sector solutions targeting, in particular, the electronic payment systems that are used to purchase child exploitation and abuse images on the internet.
Organisations behind the coalition believe that this will ultimately help to:
* Identify, locate and safeguard victims
* Identify, locate and arrest perpetrators
* Identify, trace and seize the assets of offenders
* Educate, inform and empower key stakeholders to prevent the spread and ultimately disrupt and dismantle this crime once and for all.
Jim Gamble is the Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre:
"Things have changed radically since the days of Operation Ore. Individual organisations, members of the financial sector and law enforcement agencies have worked hard to undermine the activities of those who sold images of child abuse as commodities. As a result, the organised crime element has diminished year on year as the risk increased and the profit reduced.
"Now by applying the individual lessons learnt and by coming together with our combined skills, focusing on collective objectives, we plan to eradicate the remnants of that industry once and for all.
"But we can't stop there. The EFC provides the opportunity to tackle other tactics used by predators such as complex subscription sites and news groups. These are organised by networked paedophiles and driven by a deviant sexual interest in children, rather than by organised crime enterprises for profit.
"And we will bring together our collective skills and abilities and build on the offender management model developed at the CEOP Centre. Using financial intelligence we are locating more and more high risk offenders - now a 70%+ success rate compared with 8% prior to our launch in 2006.
"So I applaud all the founding members of the EFC for lowering their corporate flags and getting on board. Our call today is for more and more to join us as our drive against this horrific crime continues."
On a special visit to the UK to mark the launch of this new initiative, European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot emphasised the international nature of the scheme and the drive to deliver a pan-European approach that would be responsive to the needs of differing countries. Vice President Barrot highlighted the importance of this initiative by saying
"I am fully committed to providing the highest possible form of protection for children against all forms of crime and abuse. It is a reality that the rapid growth of the internet has opened up a market for images of child abuse. The European Financial Coalition will help identify and protect victims of this horrific crime by following the money trail that takes the police to the offender. However, in order for the Coalition to be fully effective, more partners, including the Member States, need to join it. I am ready to fully support them in their efforts."
The Home Secretary, Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, joining Vice-President Barrot in speaking at an international conference today focused on the issue, endorsed the UK government's stance on this horrific area of criminality:
"The government is determined to tackle child sex abuse in all its forms and cracking down on those that make financial gain from the distribution of these sickening images is a priority. The UK is a world leader in protecting children offline and online with our internet service providers blocking access to child sex abuse images on 95 per cent of all consumer broadband lines. We are continuing to work with the private sector to make that coverage 100 per cent.
"This new coalition will unite even more groups at the international level to track, disrupt, prosecute and seize the assets of those who profit from these crimes and I urge other financial and internet organisations to support the work of the coalition and help the fight against child sex abuse."
The initiative was launched today at an international conference in London as up to 150 delegates from a number of involved sectors gathered to discuss the issue.
SUPPORTING ENDORSEMENTS FROM THE FOUNDING MEMBERS OF THE EFC
"With the launch of the European Financial Coalition we are taking a major step towards eradicating the commercial exploitation of children on the internet. Our lawyers worked for a year to unravel the legal obstacles involved in building this coalition, so it's a huge achievement to see it being launched today. We're incredibly proud of the part we have played in this."
Helga Van Peer, Partner, Allen & Overy LLP.
Contact: Jane Foley, +44 (0)20 3088 3674
"To sexually exploit a child is not only a serious and shameful crime, it is also a violation of our society and the fundamental human rights of children, our democratic values and the morals of mankind. The creation of the European Financial Coalition (EFC) sends out a signal, not only to society but also to the individuals behind the criminal networks profiting from these crimes. The message is simple: we are strong, we are united, we are committed and we are convinced that we together will make a difference. Europol urges stakeholders in Europe to join the EFC in order to support this multi stakeholder approach focusing on preventing the commercial distribution of images of child sexual abuse on the internet".
Mr Mariano Simancas, Europol Deputy Director
Contact: Soren Pederson, +31 703025118
"MasterCard Worldwide has always worked aggressively to identify and eliminate any illegal activity involving the use of its global payment network. Our ongoing cooperation with local law enforcement agencies around the globe is crucial in this fight and continues to provide us with some excellent tools and resources to help eliminate what has sadly become a complex and growing industry based on the exploitation of children around the world. We are proud to be a founding member and applaud the Coalition as an important initiative for Europe. We are confident that through collaboration with fellow EFC partners we will be able to mount an aggressive effort against child abuse here in Europe. The very nature of the problem requires that we bring to bear the unique skills and knowledge of each of the Coalition's members and partners to deliver a unified blow to this illegal industry. Only through this partnership will we be able to stop the flow of funds that support the use of child abuse images on the internet and hopefully move quickly toward eliminating it altogether".
Javier Perez, President, MasterCard Europe
Contact: Louise Herbert, +32 (0)2 352 5647
"Microsoft is committed to help fight commercial websites that are producing images and movies of children being sexually abused. Collaboration and information sharing between industry and law enforcement agencies is absolutely critical to fight cybercrime more efficiently. We are confident that with the experience gathered through our programs such as the Child Exploitation Tracking System and Digital PhishNet, we can make a valuable contribution to the CEOP." John Vassallo, Vice-President EU Affairs, Microsoft
Contact: Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, (503) 443-7070, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Building a global fortress is the only way to fight a crime that knows no geographic or jurisdictional boundaries. The launch of the European Financial Coalition is a vital step in that process.
Ernie Allen, President and CEO, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
Contact : Catherine Cummings 001-845-729-5934
"PayPal is pleased to become a founder member of the European Financial Coalition. It underlines our commitment to the fight against those who seek to profit from child exploitation. PayPal has a team of highly specialised agents worldwide who work solely in the area of anti-child exploitation, supported by sophisticated detection tools. We work closely with the police and other agencies around the world in the fight against child exploitation."
Contact: Rob Skinner, +44 (0) 20 8439 2067
"The world wide web has revolutionised the way we live, and has created a world of immeasurable new opportunities. But these new opportunities carry new risks, as the Internet has created a whole new market, a new industry for those who sexually exploit and abuse children. The need to find European responses to these global problems becomes every day more pressing. Missing Children Europe, with its 21 member organisations covering 15 EU Member States, is dedicated to joining financial, internet and technology leaders, law enforcement agencies and NGOs across Europe in challenging the commercial sexual exploitation of children online, by making it a high-risk, low-profit activity, rather than the reverse. The sexual exploitation of children constitutes a gross violation of their most basic rights. No effort should be spared to bring it to an end." Sir Francis Jacobs, QC, KCMG, President of Missing Children Europe Contact: Delphine Moralis, +32 477 44 44 93
"Visa Europe welcomes the creation of the European Coalition to fight the commercial exploitation of child abuse. Visa's stance on this issue has been unequivocal - we do not allow our products to be used to facilitate these transactions. But this is a fight that cannot be won in isolation. It requires an effort that combines the abilities of the industry, law enforcement, national governments and European institutions. We are proud to support the European Financial Coalition and look forward to making real strides in helping to keep young people safe online."
Valerie Dias - Executive Vice President, Head of Risk Management, Visa Europe Contact: Paul Ravenscroft, +44 (0)20 7795 5390
"Children are the most valuable resource on the world: that's why they deserve and require from everyone a strong attention, as well as protection. Luckily, the European Financial Coalition becomes operational today. It is a significant tool to effectively strengthen cooperation of international Law Enforcement Agencies, Financial Institutions and Non Governmental Organizations working together for the time in Europe in this contest.
From the Law Enforcement perspective, Postal and Communication Police Service of the Italian "Polizia di Stato" is very proud to have promoted the initiative together with CEOP, with the support of European Union."
Mr. Domenico Vulpiani, Director of Postal and Communication Police Service of the Italian National Police.
Contact: Sergio Staro, +39 (06) 465 30130
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The announcement of the EFC comes on the day over 150 European delegates from across all sectors visit London for 'An Indecent Profit: Preparing a European response to combat the commercial distribution of child abuse images' conference which runs until Wednesday 4th March (please note that the 'An Indecent Profit' conference is not open to media).
2. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, is leading the EFC initiative in partnership with MasterCard, Microsoft, PayPal, VISA Europe, Europol, the Italian National Postal and Communication Police and the NGO Missing Children Europe. The founding members of the new coalition are joined by Allen and Overy and ICMEC - the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children - as advisory members to the EFC.
3. The CEOP Centre works in both online and offline environments to protect children from sexual exploitation. Full information on all areas of work as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting can be found at ceop.gov.uk.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND INTERVIEW REQUESTS FOR JIM GAMBLE:
Clive Michel, Miriam Rich, Vicky Gillings, Hannah
CEOP Centre Press Office
0870 000 3434