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Seminar organized by the Scelles Foundation: « Digital society, from best to worse»

Thursday 20 March 2014

The seminar, centered under the aegis of M. Guy Geoffroy, current Deputy of Seine and Marne and former public reporter of the Prostitution Information Mission in France, highlighted the link existing between human trafficking for prostitution purposes, or any other sexual exploitation, and the use of internet. Forums, social networks, webcams, chat rooms or different sexual advertisements are first, part of a fertile loam for cyber criminality and second, part of recruiting both clients of the prostitution and victims as well. The seminar, made up by 4 advocacies and 2 meetings, had overall two major leads : the first lead was centered on the « diagnosis », therefore on the analysis of the real issue and the second lead focused on the possible solutions, the « prospective » aspect. The Secours Catholique (Catholic Help), coordinating The Collective « Together against human trafficking » attended the seminar.

Human Trafficking is, as Mrs. Myriam Quemener – General Attorney at Versailles Appeal Court recalls, a major phenomenon, currently expending worldwide. Generating no less than 32 billion of annual turnover, human trafficking is currently in third (III) position of the worldwide traffics, right after Drugs (I) and Weapons (II) trafficking. Nowadays, the total individuals exploited worldwide is estimated approximately at 20 billion.

The very first human trafficking form is prostitution or any other ways of sexual exploitation and is enhanced by a digital society where the ideal way of developing such criminal activities is by maximizing profits and minimizing risks. Let’s recall that sadly, prostitution and sexual exploitation are still happening in France as well. Today, we estimate the number of prostitutes working on the streets in France approximately around 15 000 and 20 000 ; that number does not even include more discreet forms of prostitutions remaining an important issue, such as prostitution inside sex-shops, massaging salons, hostess bars, student prostitutions, etc…Nowadays, we observe a retreat of street prostitution to such discreet places, estimated safer for human trafficking in sexual use purposes.

Noting that the legalization system, such as currently enforced in Germany, concerning prostitution has led to a tremendous expansion of the criminal networks and enhanced the statistics of the prostitution, the draft law n°1437, reinforcing the fight against the prostitutional system decidedly echoes an abolitionist position. Unlike the opinion suggested by the press, this bill does not only aim to reprimand the clients. Among the stipulations of that draft legislation, prevention, reinsertion and non-penalization of the victims (hence the abolition of the offense of solicitation) are major factors in the fight against prostitutional system. However, the abolition of the offense of solicitation raises a serious question about the repression of explicit sexual advertisements on the internet network.

Digital society, notwithstanding its advantages and the freedom it offers, is a fertile loam for human trafficking. First of all, the anonymity and the possibility of using a login are a perfect cover for traffickers, allowing them to expose themselves to a very lower risk than street prostitution. Secondly, the nature itself of a digital society which is both worldwide and deterritorialized allows traffickers to trifle with the country’s borders and shelter themselves into cyber-paradises, while still committing offenses and crimes on the other side of the world. Facing up with the difficulties of enforcing the law, the heterogeneity of legislation between the different countries and the slowness of police and judicial international cooperation, traffickers are showing extreme reactivity and remarquable adaptability to pursue those offenses. The volatility of the websites, the fact that those illegal websites are hosted in different foreign countries, and the very existence of loopholes where traffickers rush into, are factors making police and judicial work particularly difficult. If, as pointed out by Michel Delean – Mediapart journalist, internet and a digital society are not the very essence and origins of the human trafficking, it still remains, for traffickers, a considerable asset.

Among the arsenal aiming to fight against cyber criminality, remains a special police unit called the Central Office of Fighting Against Cyber criminality connected to Information and Communication Technologies (COFACICT). Created by the statutory order n°2000-405 on May 15th, 2000, the mission of this particular office, attached to the Central Management of Juridical Police (CMJP) within the General Management of National Police (GMNP), is to fight against any form of cyber criminality, particularly against children violations (12% of alerts processed by the office).Qualified in the fight against online fraud, pishing and such, the COFACICT is also competent in human trafficking cases and grooming (deliberate attempts by adults to approach children virtually in order to sexually abuse them, traffic or produce child pornography movies). COFACICT includes a platform of harmonization, analysis, intersection and orientation of alerts (PHAIOA) that collects, processes and transmits the alerts of internet users and service providers to the competent offices. This unit, open to any individual, is available at the following address: www.internet-signalement.gouv.fr.
The globalization of crime and human trafficking makes it necessary to cooperate internationally, especially through Common Survey Teams (CST) and International Rogatory Commissions (IRC). It also involves an essential cooperation between law enforcement and private actors such as internet services providers (even if their role is run down).

The role played by private actors are of a primer importance. In respect to this, we can applaud the initiative of the phone services provider « Orange » to educate parents with open courses about the risks provided by the use of internet. In addition, a certain number of good behavior principles and ethical conventions dawn, such as the web-etiquette or « netiquette » or the «Against Hateful Content Convention» provided by the Internet Access Provider (IAP), even if the actual utilization of them is questionable.

In addition, non-state alerts mechanisms are available ; in particular, the association INHOPE network, whose IAP is a founding member, and his French partner Point of Contact. Those mechanisms are respectively available on the following links: http://www.pointdecontact.net/parte... and http://www.pointdecontact.net/. The INHOPE network, supported by the European Commission, currently includes 46 hotlines in 40 different countries and helps securely transmitting reports and alerts with illegal unlawful contents to hosting countries.

The followings participated in the conference as speakers or regulators : Mr. Guy Geoffroy, Deputy of Seine and Marne and former public reporter of the Prostitution Information Mission in France, Mr. Yves Charpenel, General Attorney at the Supreme Court and President of the Scelles Foundation, Mrs. Myriam Quemener, General Attorney at Versailles Appeal Court, Mrs. Valérie Maldonado, Divisional Commissioner and Chief of the Central Office of Fighting Against Cyber criminality connected to Information and Communication Technologies (COFACICT), Counselor Gérard Haas, Attorney specialized in Information and Communication New Technologies Law, Mrs. Christiane Feral-Schuhl, Former President of the Bar and Attorney specialized in New Technologies law, Mr.Michel Delean, Médiapart Journalist, Mrs Carole Gay, Head of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Internet Access Provider (IAP) Association, Mrs. Nathalie Chiche from Environmental, Social and Economic Council (ESEC) and Legal Reporter of the study « Internet, for an open and equitable governance”, Mr. Jean-Christophe Le Toquin, President of the SOCOGI, Cybercriminal expert of the European Counsel, and Mr. Alain Doustalet, in charge of the Internet Offenses Unit at the phone services provider « Orange ».


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