Swedish banks join fight against child porn

Cooperation between Swedish banks and police to stop the purchase of child pornography images over the internet has proved effective, the national banking association announced on Wednesday.

The Swedish Bankers’ Association launched a joint initiative in 2009 to work together to stop the purchase of child pornography on the internet on Wednesday.

In cooperation with ECPAT Sweden (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes) and the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen), the banks will engage in crime prevention with the aim of preventing payments for pictures, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote on Wednesday.

“As a bank, we do not want to contribute to payments made for illegal activities,” Skandiabanken’s communications director told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Commercial sites that sell images of child abuse victims have declined sharply in number, the banks announced on Wednesday.

Separately, police believe that the market has become less attractive to criminals. Cooperation and contributions from other global players have resulted in credit card purchases over the internet of child sexual abuse images increasingly becoming rare.

The banks that are participating in the initiative include Danske Bank, Forex Bank, GE Money Bank, Handelsbanken, ICA Bank, Ikano Bank, Länsförsäkringar Bank, Marginalen Bank, Nordea, SEB, Skandiabanken, Sparbanken Öresund and Swedbank.

The industry association’s board decided in February 2009 to form a financial coalition in Sweden to prevent and obstruct the Swedish payment system from being misused for buying and selling child pornography.

The coalition’s mission is to develop and coordinate measures to obstruct and prevent child pornography trafficking. Banks began close cooperation with the National Criminal Investigation Department to help identify the companies that sell images of child abuse and to stop the transactions.

Banks work with ECPAT Sweden, a non-profit organization that works to prevent and stop all forms of the child sex trade, including pornography, trafficking and child sex tourism.

In October 2009, European ministers of justice and the interior decided to give political support to the further development of financial coalitions, both nationally and at EU level, to combat child pornography on the internet.

The ministers also gave their support to methods to track and stop payments. The Swedish initiative has been a model for other EU countries in combating child pornography.

The global child sex trade has grown sharply in recent years and is estimated to be worth billions of dollars. It is the third most profitable criminal activity after drugs and arms trafficking.

UNICEF estimates that over 1 million children become victims of sex trafficking around the world every year. Much of the trade is done through the internet, where buyers and sellers try to use traditional payment channels to transfer money to each other.

According to police, 50,000 attempts to reach illegal websites with abusive images of children are prevented in Sweden every day.

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Swedes least worried about internet snooping

Swedes are less worried about government, police and corporations snooping on them over the internet than any of the other nationalities surveyed by the privacy company F-Secure.

Swedes least worried about internet snooping
Swedes have historically been trusting of their governments. Photo: Lena Granefelt/Image Bank Sweden
According to the survey, Only 25 percent of Swedes surveyed said they had changed their behaviour on the internet as a result of worries over data privacy. 
This compared to 55 percent of respondents from the US, 48 percent from Germany, 47 percent from France and 43 percent from the UK. 
“We have good privacy legislation in Sweden and people in Sweden probably think these privacy rules protect internet privacy as well, but this is a misconception,” Mikael Albrecht, a security expert with F-Secure, the company which commissioned the survey told The Local. 
Swedes relaxed approach to privacy was seen in their responses to other questions. Only 31 percent of respondents from Sweden said that they knew where their personal data was stored online, compared with an average in the survey of 49 percent. 
And only 46 percent of Swedish respondents said that they were worried about new Internet-connected devices leading to privacy violations, compared with the survey's average of 69 percent. 
“Swedes perceive their country as safe and stable, especially when compared to countries like UK, USA and France, which have increased network surveillance aggressively,” Albrecht said in the press release.
“But while Sweden and many of the Nordic countries do enjoy relatively secure environments, this shouldn't translate into becoming overconfident that their personal data will stay private while being exchanged online.”
The F-Secure Consumer Values Study 2015 consisted of an online survey of 8,800 respondents from 11 countries, with 800 respondents in each of the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, and India respectively. 
The study was designed together with Informed Intuitions, and the data was collected by Toluna Analytics.