Chinese internet giants launch alliance to combat wildlife cybercrime
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 9:51
TRAFFIC in In Asia

Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC's China Office addressing alliance members from the 11 internet companies © TRAFFIC 

Beijing, China, 22nd November 2017—Internet companies based in China today announced the formation of a new alliance to combat wildlife cybercrime. The move was initiated by three China-based internet giants—Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent—and supported by an additional 8 Chinese internet companies.

Due to the magnitude of the challenge in addressing wildlife cybercrime—with hundreds of millions of users and the scale of illegal wildlife trade online—the three internet giants—BAT—chose to go beyond their individual efforts to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities and form an industry-wide partnership to take action against wildlife cybercrime.
The establishment of the alliance was supported by Chinese government authorities including the State Forestry Administration (SFA), CITES[1] Management Authority, Cyberspace Administration, National Forest Police Bureau, China Customs, Fishery Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the State Administration for Industry & Commerce.

The announcement took place during a meeting co-hosted by TRAFFIC, the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and WWF attended by 40 representatives from government agencies, Internet companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media.

TRAFFIC’s routine online monitoring in China has revealed the shift of illicit trade in wildlife products from physical markets to e-commerce marketplaces and onto social media platforms. The moves have taken place as a result of e-commerce companies’ co-operation with TRAFFIC to remove illicit wildlife trade information online, strengthened law enforcement efforts in physical markets and the dynamic development of online businesses.
Tencent, on behalf of the alliance members, introduced a new Charter that was signed by the internet service providers present.

Under the Charter, the member companies are committed to:
•    strictly adhering to China’s Wild Animal Protection Law and CITES with Zero Tolerance towards illegal wildlife trade;
•    detect and remove illegal wildlife trade advertisements on their platforms and send warnings to and prohibit their users form releasing such information;
•    actively assist law enforcement agencies in investigations and prosecutions;
•    enhance collaboration among companies, share information including techniques and experience in dealing with illegal wildlife trade online, and establish sound collaboration mechanisms;  
•    apply advanced technologies, such as big data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) to detect illegal wildlife trade;
•    advocate for Green Consumption measures on their respective platforms to contribute towards the government’s drive for “ecological civilization”;
•    increase staff capacity to identify illegal wildlife products and raise awareness about wildlife cybercrime through staff training and communication;   
•    support other industries, in particular the logistics industry, to combat illegal wildlife trade.

Following the Charter signing ceremony a meeting was held to discuss a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) for Internet companies to combat wildlife cybercrime. The SOP will provide guidance to internet companies on how to detect, prevent and deal with information related to illegal wildlife trade. The SOP will also be promoted for wider use by the member companies and other stakeholders.

“TRAFFIC and WWF are delighted to see the BAT companies inaugurate this internet alliance and their collective efforts to combat wildlife cybercrime—this is another significant move following BAT’s commitment to address illegal wildlife trade made earlier this year, made on World Wildlife Day, 3rd March,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office. “TRAFFIC and WWF fully support and encourage Chinese companies to play a leading role in addressing wildlife cybercrime, which is a worldwide problem.”

The alliance is a milestone for collective efforts by internet companies, government agencies and NGOs to tackle illegal wildlife trade online. The alliance is expected to be enlarged to include other global internet companies.

TRAFFIC’s China Office will serve as the Secretariat of the new alliance, in recognition of the organization’s strong partnership in recent years with internet companies in combating illegal wildlife trade.

Current members of the alliance include Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, 58 Group,  Baixing net,,Huaxia Collection, Zhuanzhuan, Shengshi Collection, Wen Wan Tian Xiaļ¼ŒZhongyikupai, and QYER.

TRAFFIC’s facilitation of the establishment of the internet companies’ alliance was supported by WWF US, WWF UK and the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

[1] CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

For more information:
Sammi Li, TRAFFIC, Senior Communications Officer, China


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