For information only - not an official document
11 April 2011
United Nations Crime Commission to Address the Protection of Children from Exploitation on the Web
VIENNA, 11 April (UN Information Service) - Progress in international efforts to address transnational organized crime, including emerging issues such as cybercrime, will be the focus of the 20th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice taking place in Vienna from 11 to 15 April.
The Commission, which is the central body within the United Nations system providing policy guidance on crime prevention and criminal justice, will devote a special session on the misuse of technology for the abuse and exploitation of children.
On the margins of the Commission will be a programme of side events addressing some of the most challenging crime issues today, including maritime piracy.
Caught in the web
Cybercrime is rapidly growing but the sheer volume of internet traffic and sophistication of saboteurs make it impossible to put a precise figure on the profits for criminals and losses for businesses. As more people gain access to the Internet, more victims are drawn into costly scams. But the harm done to children goes beyond monetary calculations.
"Serious offences are being committed - often right under a parent's nose," said Mr. Fedotov. "The web literally opens a portal into your home and your children may be letting criminals in."
Young people are particularly vulnerable in an online environment. Engaging with criminals may lead to grooming, the disturbing practice of adults befriending minors in chat rooms or game sites with the express purpose of committing sexual abuse.
"Online child abuse constitutes a grave international crime and demands concerted collaboration: that means developing cyberethics, cybersafety and cybersecurity," Mr. Fedotov stressed.
"We are playing cat-and-mouse in cyberspace. Criminal entrepreneurs are agile, opportunistic and market-driven. This is something that is moving so rapidly yet most of the laws we have were not put in place for the global digital age."
International cooperation and the private sector
Since cybercrime defies national borders or jurisdictions, criminal justice systems working in isolation are often no match for powerful networks. "The threat and prevalence of malicious internet activity should not be underestimated. It is important that countries harmonize legal frameworks to prevent and combat cyberthreats, and facilitate international cooperation," said Mr. Fedotov.
As with many crime issues there is a lack of reliable data. "We do not have an accurate picture of the scope and nature of the problem and cannot act as effectively as we should. Knowledge is essential for evidence-based policy and we must fill the information gap. I invite all countries to strengthen their efforts to collect and share information to help combat crime at the national and international levels," said the Executive Director.
The role of the private sector and law enforcement in foiling cybercriminals and promoting safe online behaviour will be explored during the Crime Commission. "Regulation has an important role to play but when it comes to fighting crime there has to be a partnership between the public and the private sectors. There can be no other way," said Mr. Fedotov.
"Crime prevention and victim protection cannot be achieved by Governments or criminal justice systems alone; we need internet service providers, civil society, the media, educational institutions and the public on board.
"Let us harness global know-how, galvanize political will and keep society - and especially our children - safe from unseen predators," said Mr. Fedotov.
On 12 April, the Executive Director will brief Member States on the UNODC-managed Piracy Trust Fund and his recent visit to East Africa. Mr. Fedotov visited the newly refurbished Hargeisa Prison, which will provide space for pirates arrested, and the Shimo La Tewa courthouse and prison in Kenya.
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