A&O and ICMEC continue to fight online child exploitation

On 9 May, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) launched a new campaign to engage and enlist more leaders from the Asia-Pacific region's financial and technology industries to fight online child sexual abuse and exploitation, and A&O is continuing to support this important campaign.

Led by partners Vicki Liu and Matthew Hodgson in Hong Kong, A&O first worked with ICMEC on a pan-Asian research project to support the launch of an Asia-Pacific Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography. The Coalition comprises banks, law enforcement agencies, social media organisations, law firms, government representatives, software companies, NGOs, credit card companies and other payment organisations who have come together to disrupt the economics of the trade in child abuse images.

A&O published an initial research report in 2012, examining data protection and privacy rules; banking secrecy rules; and criminal law and contract law relevant to the commercial exploitation of children in six countries (Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines).

ICMEC is continuing to use A&O’s research at Roundtable Meetings with the Coalition held in the countries covered by our report. These meetings provide a platform for Coalition members to discuss how to stop the exploitation of children in their own jurisdictions.

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As Maura Harty, former US Ambassador and President and CEO of ICMEC, explains: “We have relied heavily on Allen & Overy’s research in our efforts to build financial coalitions in key Asian countries. Excellent presentations during the [Hong Kong] roundtable exemplified A&O’s keen interest and expertise in the issues that we confront.”

While the Coalition is making steady progress throughout the Asia-Pacific region, increasing connectivity and use of non-traditional payment methods means that keeping children safe from online exploitation remains a challenge.

However, as Vicki Liu, A&O’s Managing Partner in Hong Kong, says: “It is a privilege for us to continue supporting the work of ICMEC and the Coalition. We hope that our participation in the Coalition will continue to help tackle the issue of online child sexual exploitation.”

ICMEC’s collaboration with the financial and technology industries is a strong example of what a private and public collaboration can accomplish in the fight against online child sexual abuse – and more industry collaborators will lead to better results.

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