On Thursday, tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have pledged to improve and standardize annual disclosures of online child exploitation. They have decided to fight moves to limit encryption.
Founded in 2006, the group was known as the Technology Coalition. They aimed to prevent online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). The group partners with several organizations such as Unicef and children’s charities to provide funding and advice on child safety tools to tech platforms.
In a statement, on Thursday, the group said “The world has changed since we first came together in 2006. Technology is more advanced, and there has been an explosion of new internet services, including mobile and online video streaming.”
They further added “The number of people online — more than 4.5 billion in 2020 — has added to the challenge of keeping the internet a safe place. As a result, the technological tools for detecting and reporting CSEA content have become more sophisticated, but so too have the forms of abuse we seek to prevent and eradicate.”
The five main goals of the Technology Coalition to tackle online CSEA are:
- Investment in innovative technology to tackle online child sexual abuse.
- Hold annual forum periodic events with governments, law enforcement, and other stakeholders.
- Fund independent research around the prevention of online child exploitation and measures.
- Create and develop systems for the sharing of information and threats across the industry.
- Share insights on the reporting of child sexual abuse and form a process for firms.
The group says that they will invest millions of dollars into innovation and research in tackling abusive content. They will fund to publish annual reports and build technology on its progress.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, said “(they plan to) bring together the brightest minds from across the tech industry to tackle a grave issue that no one company can solve on its own.”
On May 20, Charity Internet Watch Foundation of the U.K. said that during the country’s lockdown there had been nearly 8.8 million attempts to access images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse. This has given rise to fears around the risk of child sexual abuse spreading online in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures.