ENDitorial: European Financial Coalition against CP launched…again

By EDRi · February 27, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [ENDitorial: Europäische Finanzkoalition gegen den sexuellen Missbrauch von Kindern gestartet … wieder einmal |]

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

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)