VGT Board of Management Meeting Communique: September 2011
The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Board of Management (BoM) conducted its 2nd meeting for 2011 in Lyon, France at the INTERPOL headquarters between 8 – 9 September. Over the two-day meeting the BoM focussed on strategic partnerships in their endeavour to develop a Private Sector Engagement Strategy in support of the notion that law enforcement can not prosecute itself out of the online sexual exploitation of children alone. By strengthening its membership, the board is confident they will forge emerging tools and practices to reduce this crime type in the future.
As part of this commitment, the Council of Europe, who recently formed a strategic partnership with the VGT, presented to the group, highlighting their ability to harmonise standards and tools for use by law enforcement. Utilising the Council’s existing legislative frameworks pertaining to cyber crime and child protection, the VGT has been able to submit a Resolution for the upcoming 80th INTERPOL General Assembly in Hanoi, Vietnam in November 2011, which can assist and guide countries wishing to enhance their child protection legislation.
Microsoft and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) (ICMEC joined the VGT as a private partner in April 2011), provided the second presentation. Together they updated the VGT on the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS). The CETS international initiative is a collaboration among law enforcement, Non-Government Organisations and the private sector to combat child exploitation. The technology behind CETS was developed, in the first instance, through cooperation between the Toronto Police Service and Microsoft, but CETS overall has evolved to become a broader effort for law enforcement to track, analyse and share intelligence in investigations focused on saving and protecting children. The aims of CETS include: increasing capacity and increasing information sharing. The VGT were informed that ICMEC continues to operate as the program management for CETS. The presentation touched on the emerging governance aspects associated to CETS.
The U.S. Department of Justice also delivered a presentation to the VGT on the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008, which among other things, reinforces the need to distribute Cybertipline reports to foreign law enforcement entities, as appropriate. The Cybertipline is operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Under U.S. law, electronic service providers are required to report instances of apparent child sexual exploitation material to NCMEC and NCMEC has been required to disseminate those reports to U.S. law enforcement entities, as appropriate. Cybertipline reports designated for foreign jurisdictions have historically been handled by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the founding members of the VGT. U.S. ICE has facilitated the direct transfer of NCMEC Cybertipline reports to the majority of the VGT countries dating back to 2007. The PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 will enhance and streamline NCMEC’s ability to increase the international dissemination of Cybertipline report and create a mechanism to receive feedback on those reports. As the largest international online child protection taskforce, the VGT has been approached to take a leading role in enhancing this international dissemination and creating a feedback mechanism prior to the program being rolled-out to the global law enforcement community.
Issues relating to child sex tourism activity within South East Asia was also a major focus of the meeting. A presentation on Project Childhood, a partnership between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and INTERPOL funded by the Australian Government’s overseas aid program (AusAid) to prevent and disrupt exploitation in this region, inaugurated a new initiative for the VGT. Over the coming months, the VGT will analyse their agencies activities within South East Asia to reinforce its presence and dedication to safeguarding children.
The BoM were provided progress updates on existing VGT projects by members of the VGT Advisory Group, an entity formed by representatives from each VGT agency. In May 2012, an intelligence environmental scan of the online realm, will be presented to the BoM, enhancing the strategic focus of the VGT as a foundation for further discussion at the next VGT Conference.
In preparation for the next VGT Conference, which will be hosted by the Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates in December 2012, the BoM confirmed the conference theme being, International Collaboration: An enabler for Prevention. The three-day conference will explore the motivating factors behind offender activity; the attributes associated to victims and how through the VGT and its strategic partnerships, we can bridge the gaps to make the internet a safer place for children.
The next VGT BoM meeting will be hosted by the VGT Canadian representative, the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, in May 2012.
Virtual Global Taskforce
Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT)
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The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), one of the world’s largest international child protection taskforces, met at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France this week to explore new techniques [more...]