In the mid-2000s, it became evident to ICMEC and others that people were using their credit cards to buy images of children being sexually abused online.
“If people were purchasing heroin and cocaine using their credit cards, we would be outraged and would do something about it. This is worse.”Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
In response, the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (FCACP) was launched in 2006 by ICMEC and its sister agency, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The U.S. FCACP’s membership includes the country’s leading banks, credit card companies, electronic payment networks, third-party-payments companies, and Internet services companies, making up 90% of the US payments industry.
Working with law enforcement, the FCACP’s mission has been to disrupt the economics of the child pornography business — and it has met its goal. Websites offering child pornography now frequently direct buyers away from traditional payment methods such as credit cards, having to recommend more complicated alternatives that may dissuade some potential purchasers. As a result of its efforts, the use of credit cards to purchase child sexual abuse content online has been virtually eliminated globally.
This is a stunning accomplishment, but ICMEC and the FCACP are mindful of the need to stay vigilant and continue to fight those who seek to profit from the sexual exploitation of children. Consequently, current areas of focus include:
- Keeping a watchful eye on developments related to the platforms and payment methods that can be used to support the sale of images and videos of children being sexually exploited. Accordingly, ICMEC and the FCACP embarked on an exploration of cryptocurrencies and the role they play in commercial sexual exploitation of children. LookingGlass Cybersolutions, a member of the FCACP, has delivered a first-class study on the subject.
- By emphasizing prevention through a workshop for the financial industry titled “The Payments Industry’s Role in Combatting Commercial Child Sexual Exploitation.” The goal of the workshop is to assist payments companies in evaluating their procedures for detecting commercial child pornographers and preventing commercial child pornographers from obtaining access to services. Prevention guidance is also offered in the FCACP’s thought-leadership paper, Internet Merchant Acquisition and Monitoring Sound Practices to Help Reduce the Proliferation of Commercial Child Pornography.
- By managing and supporting financial coalitions in Asia Pacific and Europe.
Because the business of child pornography resides on the Internet, taking it on requires international cooperation. ICMEC has been working to expand the FCACP globally.
Asia-Pacific Financial Coalition Against Child Sexual Exploitation
The Asia-Pacific Financial Coalition Against Child Sexual Exploitation was established in 2009, and is managed by ICMEC Singapore.
The European Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation of Children Online (EFC) brings together key actors from law enforcement, the private sector and civil society in Europe with the common goal of fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children online. ICMEC participates in the EFC’s Steering Group, and has presented at the EFC’s two Awareness Raising Events. In addition, the EFC has conducted training sessions for law enforcement and has published a Strategic Assessment of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online.
In 2008, ECPAT Sweden began collaborating with SkandiaBanken and law enforcement on an initiative to combat the business of child pornography on the Internet. In 2009, the Swedish Bankers Association and ECPAT announced that all Swedish bankers would support the initiative. This Swedish Coalition continues today.