EU Groups Unite Against Online CP

LONDON -- The European Union has formed a coalition of business and law enforcement officials to snare child porn providers and buyers on the Internet.

The new European Financial Coalition includes Internet providers, banks, credit card companies and police organizations from 27 nations. Members will share financial and other data to crack down on those involved in selling or buying child porn online.

MSNBC reports the EU will provide a half-million dollars in funding to help launch the new coalition.

"The government is determined to tackle child sex abuse in all its forms, and cracking down on those who make financial gain from the distribution of these sickening images is a priority," said British Interior Minister Jacqui Smith, according to Reuters UK.

The new group will track organized distributors of child porn, prosecuting offenders and seizing their assets.

"The European Financial Coalition will help identify and protect victims of this horrific crime by following the money trail that takes the police to the offender," said Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot

The EFC will be led by Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. Other law enforcement participants include Europol, the Italian National Postal, and the Communication Police.

On the business end, members include MasterCard, Microsoft, PayPal, Visa Europe, Microsoft and the NGO Missing Children Europe.

"I am fully committed to providing the highest possible form of protection for children against all forms of crime and abuse," Barrot said. "The European Financial Coalition will help identify and protect victims, and, above all, confiscate the profits from these criminal activities. However, in order for the Coalition to be fully effective, more partners, including the member states, need to join it. I am ready to fully support them in their efforts."

The EU Commission also will offer proposals to prevent the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

CEOP Centre Jim Gamble sees the new coalition as the next step following the successful Operation Ore several years ago, which targeted UK users of American child porn sites.

"By applying the individual lessons learnt and by coming together with our combined skills, we plan to eradicate the remnants of that industry once and for all," he said.