Sexual abuse of children and the spread of images of such abuse are disgusting crimes that we need to fight together. Unfortunately it is a crime which is increasing and which is difficult to get at. Younger and younger children are depicted in the images and videos that are diffused online. Together with Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, I launched today the European Financial Coalition against sexual exploitation of children online (EFC). The project will be running for three years and it will be co-financed by the Commission and lead by Europol, however, police, civil society and businesses, will participate in order to jointly work against the trade in child sexual abuse images and videos. The method is to combine these actors and get at the criminal networks by following payments and the various systems that are used on the web to commit these crimes. The aim of the project is to support international criminal investigations, and to the greatest possible extent cooperate with private actors. The project will assess and study the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet, in all parts of Internet, such as chat rooms and similar, and help commercial actors whose services, often without their knowledge, are being abused by criminal networks.
The project is a development of a previous project in 2009, which aimed at preventing commercial websites created with the purpose to spread child sexual abuse images. Improvements have been made in reducing the number of commercial websites, however, chat groups and social networks are now being used instead, and we therefore need to develop the work and cooperation against the trade. It is difficult for the police to get hold of information and as a consequence it is crucial that the private sector and the civil society contribute to the work. Among others, MasterCard, Visa Europe, Paypal, Microsoft and Google, are involved in the project.