By Prarthana Mitra
Commercial child pornography is recognised as one of the fastest growing internet crimes, operating inside the larger framework of child sexual exploitation. The advent of blockchain has complicated this further, as the internet remains a largely unregulated zone. Purchase of illegal items online is preferred because of the anonymity it offers, allowing criminals to covertly enter the financial ecosystem and process their transactions due to the limitations in existing KYC solutions.
Broadening the battle against the online sale and dissemination of child pornographic material, EverCompliant’s eKYC Discovery offers a much-needed affirmation to the level of social responsibility expected of the digital payments industry today.
What is eKYC Discovery?
Launched on October 3 at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference 2018 in Las Vegas, EverCompliant’s new system works to combat and apprehend peddlers of child pornography by plugging the gaps in the transaction system.
The eKYC Discovery is an API-driven, data-query tool that provides financial institutions and payment service providers with a deeper insight into a corporate customer’s complete profile, and unlock suspicious patterns beyond a customer’s physical presence into their online habits.
Plugging the gaps
Today, there is an unspoken gap in most Bank Secrecy Acts and the anti-money laundering-mandated Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. Financial institutions are more vulnerable to criminal activity today because most of the existing KYC programmes neglect risk factors pertaining to a corporate customer’s online presence.
According to Chad MS Steel writing in the book Digital Child Pornography, “The addition of untraceable payment mechanisms like Bitcoin have encouraged a resurgence in commercial child pornography services.”
Traditional KYC processes verify a corporate customer’s identity while analysing risks to determine their propensity for money laundering, financing terrorists or identity theft, focusing only on the name, address and nature of the business, registration and credit score.
EverCompliant, a payments industry leader in anti-money laundering (or AML), KYC and online cyber intelligence, developed eKYC Discovery to analyse the internet and detect hidden links to sanctioned countries, illegal businesses, and risky business associations.
“The current KYC solutions on the market don’t offer the capability to evaluate the online presence of an organization, leaving gaps for bad actors to exploit,” Ron Teicher, founder and CEO of EverCompliant, said in a press release. “Our technology helps make the world safer by enabling our customers to easily identify high-risk entities through online verification and prevent dangerous criminals from entering our financial system.”
Putting an end to commercial child pornography
The first and predominant challenge, which holds true for all cybercrimes, is to penetrate through the layers of identity protection to identify the true perpetrators.
The scope and framework of response to this social menace, however, hinges itself on a multi-sectoral partnership with judicial authorities, internet service providers and the information and communication technology sector. Recently, the Internet Watch Foundation and blockchain start-up Elliptic launched a similar initiative, to impede the use of bitcoin to purchase child sex abuse images online, with a unique tool that can trace suspicious transaction patterns. Another forensic fintech and big data analytics company Austreme joined the Asia Pacific Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography.
Bindu Sharma, Asia Policy Director of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, observed, “Technology solution providers have a vital role to play, as they are uniquely well equipped to detect illegal content on Internet platforms, providing key insights on the extent and scope of the issue; and on new trends in criminal online activity.”
The transnational organised crime wrings in an annual revenue of 3 billion dollars today. As new challenges face regulatory bodies and tech corporations today, tools like eKYC Discovery can help apprehend criminals who otherwise get processed in our banking system through gaps in the compliance process. The eKYC tool is one effective way to bridge the financial and law enforcement organisations, paving the way for better control over dissemination and transaction.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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