September 11, 2013

Task Force Created to Address Issues Surrounding the Internet-Based Digital Financial System

Thomson Reuters, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children lead effort to educate, provide solutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thomson Reuters and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) announced the formation of the Digital Economy Task Force, developed to focus on the benefits and risks surrounding the digital economy.

The Digital Economy Task Force, led by co-chairs Steve Rubley, managing director, Government Segment for the Legal business of Thomson Reuters, and Ernie Allen, president and CEO of ICMEC, held its first meeting in August, and has developed working groups to address the wide-ranging mechanisms for fostering financial inclusion to combatting illicit activities. The focus areas for the working groups include safeguarding human rights, regulation, inter-agency coordination and law enforcement.

According to Rubley, the digital economy now reaches across the globe providing a plethora of new opportunities, and has become central to how business is conducted. But there are also dark corners, Rubley noted, where drug cartels can easily launder money and human sex traffickers operate in near obscurity. “Earlier this year, we produced a report detailing the rise of illegal money-laundering activities through the digital economy. We also worked with ICMEC and held the first-of-its-kind conference that brought leaders and stakeholders together to discuss the risks, potential and promises of the digital economy, which in turn led to discussions emphasizing the need for further action.”

The goals of the task force are to educate the public and work collaboratively across stakeholder groups, including government agencies, law enforcement, corporations, academia, public and non-profit agencies, as well as key industry players. The approach will be a balanced view of both the advantages and disadvantages surrounding the digital economy – a place where people can enjoy the convenience of digital currencies, but where there are controls in place to regulate them like any other form of money.

The organizations selected to the Digital Economy Task Force for their experience and expertise, include, but are not limited to:

  • Bitcoin Foundation
  • Cato Institute
  • Mercatus Center at George Mason University
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The Brookings Institute
  • The Tor Project, Inc.
  • Trend Micro, Inc.
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Vital Voices

“The digital economy extends a great number of opportunities for businesses, individuals, non-profits and governmental agencies, but at the same time, there are numerous challenges and risks due to non-regulation and anonymity,” said Rubley. “The Digital Economy Task Force was developed to generate awareness, promote coordination and leverage the multiple benefits the digital economy affords us while recommending solutions to help confront illegal behavior.”

“This is a complex issue,” said Allen. "Technology has created a new digital economy, which is being used by some to produce and sell child pornography, and for trafficking and child exploitation. This is a serious problem that requires serious solutions. Our task force will offer balanced, effective solutions for policy makers, law enforcement, regulators and the public."

The Digital Economy Task Force will produce and release an official report in February 2014 with the goal of informing individuals and lawmakers globally about the current state of the digital economy and exploring the inherent opportunities and risks associated with an increasingly digital economy and its effects on human rights, regulation, crime and law enforcement.

Thomson Reuters

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About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC)

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private 501(c)(3) non-governmental, nonprofit organization. It is the leading agency working internationally to combat child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation. The Organization has built a global network of 22 nations, trained law enforcement in 121 countries and worked with parliaments in 100 countries to enact new laws on child pornography. ICMEC works in partnership with INTERPOL, the Organization of American States and the Hague Conference on Private International Law among others. For more information about ICMEC visit: