Intl. task force tar­gets on­line child threats with vir­tual 911

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

Law-en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in the U.S., Bri­tain, Canada and Aus­tralia have be­gun an ini­tia­tive to com­bat ris­ing In­ter­net child abuse, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a vir­tual 911 sys­tem for emer­gent on­line threats to chil­dren in any of the coun­tries.

“On­line preda­tors pose se­ri­ous risks to chil­dren when they go look­ing for in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion,” said De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Julie L. My­ers, who heads U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE). “Through the Vir­tual Global Task­force, we are cre­at­ing an in­stant re­sponse.”

The round-the-clock In­ter­net “watch” shifts be­gan last year in Bri­tain and Aus­tralia, spear­headed by Jim Gam­ble, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Bri­tain’s Child Ex­ploita­tion and On­line Pro­tec­tion Cen­ter and chair­man of the Vir­tual Global Task­force (VGT).

“The In­ter­net is a great place for chil­dren to learn, have fun and com­mu­ni­cate with their peers,” Mr. Gam­ble said. “But where chil­dren go, then child sex preda­tors will fol­low. That is a fact and one that ev­ery po­lice force, no mat­ter where they are, has to face up to.

“The VGT is not only say­ing enough is enough in crack­ing down on child sex abuse but is go­ing fur­ther in rec­og­niz­ing the global di- men­sion of the In­ter­net and de­liv­er­ing a world­wide vir­tual po­lice pres­ence,” he said. “Now, for the first time, with law-en­force­ment agen­cies from ma­jor con­ti­nents com­ing to­gether we are start­ing to de­liver a truly global re­sponse — a pres­ence that will say to chil­dren, if you feel in any dan­ger, any threat, then re­port that at­tack to us and we will de­liver that truly 24/7 polic­ing re­sponse.”

ICE spokes­woman Ka­dia H. Koro­ma­saidthatun­derthe24/7watch sys­tem, one na­tion’s mem­ber agency on the task force es­sen­tially serves as the on-call, In­ter­net po­lice of­fi­cer for a por­tion of each day. Af­ter the com­ple­tion of one shift, she said, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the next shift ro­tates to a VGT mem­ber agency from an­other na­tion.

Ms. Koroma said in­ves­ti­ga­tors have real-time ac­cess to one an­other to re­spond to im­me­di­ate threats, no mat­ter where the sus­pected vi­o­la­tion is tak­ing place.

The watch sys­tem has pro­duced some early suc­cess, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in a chat room and re­ported to au­thor­i­ties in the U.S. that a per­son in Eng­land planned to mo­lest his chil­dren withi­nafe­whours.There­spon­sein­volved in­ves­ti­ga­tors in both coun­tries, work­ing through a team of ICE and U.S. Postal In­spec­tion Ser­vice agents and the Child Ex­ploita­tion and On­line Pro­tec­tion Cen­ter in Bri­tain.

Within min­utes of the first re­port, Ms. Koroma said, po­lice were at the man’s house, where they found images of child pornog­ra­phy. She said the re­sponse mit­i­gated risks posed by­him­toother­chil­dren­towhomhe had ac­cess.

The four coun­tries also are dis­cussing ways for each na­tion to meet with in­dus­try lead­ers to dis­cuss what tech­nol­ogy can be used to make the In­ter­net safer for chil­dren.

“We’re find­ing that in­dus­try is very keen to be in­volved in ad­dress­ing the im­pact of this crime,” said Greg Har­ri­gan of the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice. “They want to make it clear that the use of their tech­nol­ogy for any crim­i­nal pur­poses, par­tic­u­larly abuse against chil­dren, will not be tol­er­ated.”

Staff Sgt. Mike Frizzell of the Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice said Canada is “fully com­mit­ted” to the in­ter­na­tional ef­fort against the In­ter­net-fa­cil­i­tated sex­ual abuse of chil­dren, adding that VGT “al­lows us to share best prac­tices in in­ves­tiga­tive tech­niques, pre­ven­tion and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.”

Create­din2003,theVGTisalawen­force­ment net­work com­posed of ICE, the Aus­tralian High Tech Crime Cen­ter, Bri­tain’s Na­tional Crime Squad, the Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice and In­ter­pol.

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