In recent hours, Tether, the stablecoin backed by liquid assets, announced that it will collaborate with INHOPE, the leading global network fighting online child pornography (CSAM).
Tether will work with INHOPE to identify transfers going to online CSAM marketplaces and report them. The hope is to set a precedent for the industry as a whole and develop a standard practice on how cryptocurrency companies can more easily identify and report CSAM marketplaces.
Tether and INHOPE: a battle with a common purpose
As anticipated, Tether Operations Limited (Tether), the company that operates the tether.to blockchain-enabled platform that powers the first and most widely used stablecoin, announced today that it will collaborate with INHOPE, the leading global network fighting online child sexuality (CSAM).
Tether will work with INHOPE to share information, facilitate conversations between stakeholders, and take action to steer malicious actors away from the crypto ecosystem. Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether, said on the matter:
“Working alongside law enforcement, lawmakers and standard-setting bodies worldwide, Tether is committed to being a positive force in the crypto space by highlighting the risks of child exploitation and to help organise sensible risk mitigating controls in the cryptocurrency industry.
We are especially interested in improving the ability of cryptocurrency businesses to identify transfers related to online CSAM marketplaces and report them to the authorities.”
Thus, an industry leader in transparency and in constant collaboration with law enforcement, Tether will work with INHOPE to identify transfers going to online CSAM marketplaces and report them.
As a network composed of hotlines operating in all EU member states, Russia, South Africa, North and South America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, INHOPE has been fighting for an Internet free of child abuse since 1999.
In fact, INHOPE began negotiations with Tether at the INHOPE Summit in 2022, during an open and honest discussion about the industry’s essential role in addressing CSAM online. Samantha Woolfe, head of global partnerships and network expansion at INHOPE, emphasized:
“We are excited to announce this relationship and welcome Tether as an INHOPE funder. Tether’s active approach to working with industry, NGOs, law enforcement and national financial intelligence units supports our goal to improve the detection and reporting of cryptocurrency transfers related to CSAM.”
Thus, INHOPE and Tether share a common purpose: to disrupt the illegal use of digital finance to finance the exchange of materials related to child sexual exploitation (CSE) and child sexual abuse (CSA).
CSA and CSE: what can Tether do to combat these phenomena?
Criminals who exchange CSA and CSE materials online in financial transactions are, sadly, now found on every technological platform. As a result, cryptocurrency exchange companies, hotlines, and law enforcement agencies need to look for more solutions to combat CSAM by sharing critical information and usable information more efficiently.
To address this need, Tether understands that they and other companies in the same industry must be part of this fight, especially where CSE and CSA materials are exchanged for cryptocurrencies.
By supporting INHOPE’s work, Tether is leading the way in prioritizing child protection. Similar to traditional financial institutions, Tether applies Know Your Customer (KYC) to verify that its customers’ transactions are not fraudulent, linked to corruption or illegal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing.
Tether has already taken a position where it proactively includes coverage of child sexual abuse and exploitation. In order to disrupt the growing use of digital transactions to exchange CSE and CSA, INHOPE calls on its partners to collaborate on the best processes to disrupt financial transactions so that online platforms, cryptocurrencies, law enforcement, and hotlines can coordinate.
This year, INHOPE will create a forum for cryptocurrency exchange collaboration and action to combat CSAM transactions. This discussion group will also provide valuable information to INHOPE’s network of member hotlines as they learn how they can support, disrupt and mitigate increased financial transaction risk of the cryptocurrency-enabled CSAM exchange.
Even Apple against CSAM markets and child pornography
Not only Tether, Apple at one time also developed a project regarding CSAM markets. It is CSAM Detection, an acronym that stands for Child Sexual Abuse Material.
It is based on NeuralHash, an algorithmic system to scan and scan images in iPhones and check whether they contain images of abused minors.
The system, in a technical key, is quite refined and is based on cryptographic hash functions, or the construction of a binary string map-code of data. That is, a unique way of reconstructing and identifying, through hashing precisely, the description of an image by means of coupling between the photo being scanned and a database.
In this specific case, the database that Apple will use to verify iPhones, for now only those sold in the US market, is that of the National Center for Missing and Abused Minors.