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May 12, 2014Brussels, BelgiumChild Exploitation

Switzerland joins Virtual Global Taskforce

PHOTO (Left to right): Anthony L. Gardner, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; Ian Quinn, VGT Chair, Deputy Assistant Director and Head of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cyber Crimes Center (C3); Thomas Walther, Head of Commissioner's Office, Federal Office of Police (Fedpol), Cybercrime Coordination Unit Switzerland; and Roberto Balzaretti, Swiss Ambassador to the European Union.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Switzerland is the latest country to join the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), an international alliance of law enforcement and private sector agencies dedicated to combating online child sexual exploitation and other forms of transnational child sexual exploitation. An official signing-in ceremony was held in Brussels Tuesday, which was attended by both the U.S. and Swiss ambassadors to the European Union.

Switzerland was formally welcomed by VGT Chair Ian Quinn, head of the Cyber Crimes Center for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who said, "I'm proud to welcome Switzerland to the VGT and I look forward to their contributions in helping us to combat this global problem." The VGT now consists of 13 international law enforcement agencies and 12 private sector partners.

"As a member of the Global Alliance against online child abuse, Switzerland set itself the goal of joining the VGT in order to share the responsibility of fighting online child abuse with the international community," said Thomas Walther, commissioner of the Swiss Cybercrime Coordination Unit Switzerland (CYCO), who will represent Switzerland on the VGT board of management.

CYCO is part of the Federal Criminal Police, a main division within the Federal Office of Police and is Switzerland's central contact point for reporting illegal subject matter on the Internet. The Cybercrime Unit has three areas of responsibility – monitoring, analysis and clearing – and is composed of networks technicians, specialists for Internet protocol and information security, legal experts and criminal analysts. CYCO is represented in national working groups and co-operates closely with international partners and NGOs.

The 12 other VGT law enforcement member agencies are: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Australian Federal Police; the UK National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command; Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children/Behavioural Sciences Branch; the Italian Postal and Communication Police Service; New Zealand Police; INTERPOL; Europol; the Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates; Dutch National Police, Indonesian National Police and the Korean National Police

The VGT private partners are: End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes network (ECPAT International), International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), PayPal, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, World Vision, Blackberry, The Code, Kids Internet Safety Alliance (KINSA), NetClean and Telstra.