By Thomas Atkins
Credit card companies and technology firms should do more to combat
child pornography on the Internet, a United Nations expert said
Wednesday. Credit card firms may unwittingly process illegal Web
transactions, Juan Miguel Petit, U.N. special rapporteur on child
"Credit card companies shouldn't wait for the problem to arrive,"
Petit said at a news briefing. "The international credit card
companies and also the manufacturers of hardware and software
... surely know more than NGOs or governments about these problems and
how to fight them."
Petit also wants to force Internet service providers to remove or
block access to illegal material when they see it and to oblige them
to monitor their services to prevent it.
Child pornography on the Internet has become one of the biggest areas
of cybercrime in recent years with police forces around the world
rounding up thousands of web users accused of accessing illegal sites.
Credit card firm Visa International says it has already taken the
battle to the enemy and pursues illegal operators.
However, David Masters, spokesman for Visa, said tech-savvy operators
made it a difficult problem to handle. "It's a horrific industry and
we do everything we can against it," he said. "It's business we don't
want and we're only too pleased to help where we can. We work very
closely with law enforcement across the world."
Illegal operators hide behind business fronts, meaning the only way to
track them down is to troll the Web for possible abusers using high-
tech search engines, he said by telephone.
Horacio Gutierrez, head of Microsoft's legal and corporate department
for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said his company had
engineered programs to aide police.
Microsoft is also a partner of the International Center for Missing
and Exploited Children.
"Technology companies have a critical role to play in making the
Internet safe for children," Gutierrez said by telephone. "It's a
multifaceted issue which really has worldwide implications."
International crime-fighting body Interpol will hold a meeting in
Lyon, France, Thursday with the International Center for Missing and
Exploited Children, credit card companies and tech firms such as
Gutierrez said companies, police and non-governmental organizations
would explore the role of technology and the Internet industry in the
growth of child pornography.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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