With all the news about Facebook and the Russian involvement in the U.S. election and also the recent headlines about data mining on Facebook, it seems easy to overlook some the important things tech companies are doing in the world of conservation and endangered species. This includes recent events aimed at stopping wildlife trafficking online.
A few weeks ago, 21 tech companies from North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa came together as the first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. These leading e-commerce and social media companies are joining forces with Tencent, TRAFFIC, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) with the goal of reducing wildlife trafficking across Internet platforms by 80 percent by 2020.
According to TRAFFIC, the world’s leading organization fighting wildlife crime, each of these tech companies, in collaboration with WWF, TRAFFIC, and IFAW, will develop and implement policies to help end wildlife trafficking online. One of their key goals will be to “render online platforms and apps inoperable for wildlife traffickers to trade in endangered and threatened species.”
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) the wildlife crime generates as much as $20 billion per year. Many of the illegally killed or transported species end up on the Internet. According to TRAFFIC, having conservation and animal organizations partnering with the tech companies is a “critical step” to stop this Internet trade.
“Bringing these industry giants together is the best shot at systematically closing the open web to wildlife traffickers,” said Crawford Allan, Senior Director, Wildlife Crime at TRAFFIC. “These sites are unwittingly being abused by criminals that are making a killing from selling rare species and products made from their parts. Inconsistent policies across the web invariably create a ‘whack-a-mole’ effect, where ads may be removed from one site just to pop up somewhere else. These companies see the problem and are uniting to ensure an internet where traffickers have nowhere left to turn.”
Shu Mengying, Manager of Tencent Security Management Department says, “Tencent has always adopted a zero tolerance towards illegal wildlife trade on its platform and a direct portal enables users to report suspected wildlife trafficking on Tencent’s WeChat platform under our ‘Tencent for Planet’ project.“ Adding “In addition, the launch of ‘Illegal wildlife and products’ reporting on Tencent’s QQ is a great innovation among instant messaging products, while we also encourage users to participate in and support online wildlife conservation activities through various forms of education.”
If the project is successful it will help offset the Internet’s global connectivity and relative anonymity of sellers that enables wildlife traffickers to buy, sell, and ship animals and wildlife products with just a few clicks.
“This is another significant move following the Chinese Internet companies’ coalition led by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) established last November in Beijing,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office. “TRAFFIC and WWF are supporting Chinese internet companies to share innovative experiences through this global coalition as part of global collective efforts to address wildlife cybercrime.”
The founding members of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online are Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Microsoft, Pinterest, Qyer, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group, convened by TRAFFIC, WWF and IFAW.
Link to the original press release: http://www.technologysavingwildlife.com/uncategorized/tech-companies-unite-to-stop-wildlife-traffickers