Working with online payments services – finding ways of stopping commercial child sexual abuse imagery

Published:  Mon 13 Feb 2017

Nicky Peachment, IWF Commercial Relationships Manager

IWF’s Membership base is growing day by day. Our Members come from different areas – some are big internet service providers, others are small filtering companies – but what unites us all is the goal of stopping online abuse.

Last week, one of our Members - G2 Web Services - gave a Risk Summit in London. G2 provides merchant risk intelligence solutions to the payments industry. They’ve been an IWF Member since 2014, and together we’ve found new ways of supporting them and their customers with advanced risk monitoring services.

The G2 summit discussed different kinds of online crimes, such as transaction laundering, where legal “front” merchants are used to hide illicit sales, and other fraud or illegal product purchase methods.  What struck me the most was that those crimes showed parallels to things we see and fight against at the IWF.

What do we see at the IWF?

Our expert analysts assess and identify new images of child sexual abuse every day. The quantity of those images is shocking, as is the scale to which these horrific images and videos are commercially available on the open web. Offenders buy child sexual abuse material through a variety of methods - via payments to cyber lockers, marketing affiliate schemes, or transaction laundering.

“The IWF has been central to eradicating many types of child sexual content formerly available on the Web,” says G2 CEO Allison Guidette. “But the purveyors have moved to dark corners of the internet, so we remain committed to the IWF’s mission and will continue to chase perpetrators through technology, data science, and expert Web analysts.”

The majority of online merchants are disturbed at the thought of their sites being used for the commercial sale of child abuse material. G2 works globally to protect their payment industry customers. And we at the IWF work with them to stop the commercial revictimisation of child sexual abuse victims.   

What more can be done?

With new payment mechanisms evolving, the fight against commercial child sexual abuse material becomes more and more difficult. As G2 say, it’s about finding the needle in the haystack – identifying the merchant and the website.

But it’s not all bad news. We are seeing that tools provided by the IWF are really making a difference, and we continue to develop tools and provide more data to the industry than ever before. In the next few days, G2 will receive a new data stream from us with important data on a payment trend that we identified during 2016.

But more needs to be done. There are many businesses out there that could benefit from IWF data and tools, and vice-versa. Our aim for 2017 is to reach out to and work with more companies than ever before. G2’s and our key message from the summit is quite a simple one:

We need to continue working together as that is our strongest tool in the fight against online child sexual abuse images and videos.

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