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IP/08/696

Brussels, 6 May 2008

Commission strongly supports setting up of "EU Coalition of Stakeholders against commercial sexual exploitation of children on the Internet"

Vice-President Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, has expressed his strong support for the advanced plans to set up an EU Coalition of Stakeholders against commercial sexual exploitation of children on the Internet, presented by Missing Children Europe and other stakeholders at a press conference today.

In 2007, there was a 16.4% increase in child abuse images reports processed by the Internet Watch Foundation hotline compared to the same period in 2006. "The commercial sexual exploitation of children online is a fast growing, low risk and profitable business. The Coalition will facilitate properly coordinated law enforcement operations and other complementary disruptive actions against those profiting from this horrendous crime. It will contribute considerably to the protection of the most vulnerable amongst us, children, and to the prosecution of offenders and the confiscation of criminal proceeds", said Vice-President Barrot.

The coalition will bring together all stakeholder groups engaged in the fight against the commercial distribution of images of child sexual abuse on the Internet, in particular law enforcement authorities, non-governmental organisations, banks, credit card and on-line payment companies, internet service providers and other internet based private operators.

In this area, the Commission is contributing to setting up a mechanism to track payments made with a credit card or an electronic payment when purchasing images of sexual abuses of children on the Internet, in view of terminating contracts and freezing assets, as well as tracking and prosecuting criminals. Several preparatory meetings with the main stakeholders have taken place and a draft document moots the possibility of a platform for all the partners (banks, credit card and on-line payment companies, Internet access providers and national authorities).

For more information:

- Memo 08/231 on the Follow-up to the EU strategy on the rights of the child

- The website of Vice-President Barrot:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/barrot/index_en.htm

- JLS website (children):

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/children/fsj_children_intro_en.htm


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