Bitcoin used by online child abusers

An article in The Guardian online states that although tracking payments with the help of Visa and Paypal has helped catch paedophiles on the internet, many are now turning to “anonymous technologies” such as Bitcoin and the dark net to continue abusing children. The report calls on financial institutions to do more. .

The Unicef article by Tim Smedley cites the Sweetie project by Terre des Hommes Netherlands (2013) as an indicator of the scale of money being transferred for online child abuse globally.

Being able to follow the money in tracking illegal activity such as online child abuse is a vital tool in combating such crime but the rise in the use of so-called crypto-currencies or anonymous technologies has made traceability much more difficult for law enforcement agencies. Where 10 years ago most financial transactions on the internet were carried out using credit cards this is no longer the case and many users seeking anonymity are taking to Bitcoin and other non-traceable currencies as a means of payment.  According to Smedley ;“This new world has made it harder to target abusers through their financial transactions and, say campaigners, puts an onus on the financial industry to do more.”

However although traceability of Bitcoin transactions is set to improve in the future, many campaigners say that global financial institutions should be held more accountable for these illegal practices and address their responsibility as a business for this issue.

January 2016

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