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ENDitorial: European Financial Coalition against CP launched...again

27 February, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: ENDitorial: Europäische Finanzkoalition gegen den sexuellen Missbrauc...

In 2009, the Swedish Presidency of the European Union helped launch the “European Financial Coalition against Child Pornography”. The initiative was based on the pre-existing US “Financial Coalition against Child Pornography,” involved the same companies and addressed the same websites. The only perceptible difference between the EU and US coalitions was that the EU coalition was funded by taxpayers' money – to do what the companies were already doing.

Interestingly (and laudably, it must be said), the EU project produced a detailed analysis of the problem after its first year of operation. The outcome of this analysis was a report which produced some interesting findings. These include: - Commercial sites are generally not high profit; compared to other areas of online criminality, profits are actually quite low; - There has been a significant decrease in the number of active commercial sites that can be identified; - The producers of abuse images are likely to use small, secure areas of the internet that are password-protected to share the images for free.

In other words, the assumptions on which the European Financial Coalition was based were incorrect – the profits being made are quite low, the number of sites is falling “significantly” and the problem is now small and secure, non-commercial services. Unsurprisingly, the project did not receive further funding and became inactive (apart from the work that the US coalition was doing, which the EU coalition was only duplicating, in any case).

Then, in November 2012, the Financial Coalition was launched again, helpfully providing an activity for the European Cybercrime Centre to occupy itself with. The new “Financial Coalition” has re-invented itself to take account of the fact that a Financial Coalition is not actually needed.

The press release launching the initiative talks obtusely about “opaque online environments” but with no clear view beyond a drive to ensure that private companies become involved in law enforcement. For example, the press release talks about involving private stakeholders in supporting “international law enforcement investigations”, not where “necessary” but where “possible” - suggesting that participation of private companies in law enforcement actions is an end in itself.

It is disappointing that, yet again, regardless of what the problem is in the online environment, the answer from the European Commission is to throw money at ill-defined projects whose only unifying theme is the privatisation of law enforcement in the hands of (uniquely American in this case) private companies.

Swedish Council Presidency Conclusions (2.09.2009)

Financial Coalition report 2010

European Financial Coalition

US Financial Coalition

(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)



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