Microsoft’s Unwavering Commitment to Digital Safety

 |   Casper Klynge, Vice President of European Government Affairs and Courtney Gregoire, Chief Digital Safety Officer

Child with tablet

Today, we want to provide clarity about our plans to continue protecting people, including children, in the European Union and across the globe from serious digital safety risks.

As announced in our joint industry statement, Microsoft will continue to use safety tools across our core consumer services to protect people – especially children –  while European Union policymakers work to address this critical need and develop a harmonized regulatory approach.

Microsoft’s commitment to digital safety is unwavering. For many years, we have employed a range of detection methods to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation online, to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting online services, and to protect users from spam and malware.  We do this work by balancing important considerations of privacy, safety, security, and other fundamental rights, consistent with the law.

The complexity of our work to maintain a safe digital environment is exacerbated by the fact that existing laws were written about now-outdated technologies and fail to match today’s reality. Communication applications of the 21st century do more than merely ensure a message reaches the intended recipient: they allow people to store, host, share, and collaborate with others. As technology becomes more complex and ubiquitous, safeguarding privacy, security, and safety requires both an update to existing legal frameworks as well as a commitment to transparency and principled practices from technology providers.

As an example, unique safety challenges present themselves in the Gaming environment. We have met them through innovative tools to address harassment, grooming, and other harms. Gaming appeals to people from all walks of life, and creating custom, age-appropriate experiences has always been at the heart of how we design our gaming services at Microsoft. Since Gaming is especially appealing for children and families, Xbox and other gaming platforms include child settings and parental controls as standard functionality, and parents have come to rely on these tools as essential guardrails in their children’s online experiences. We will continue to prioritize the safety of our players, especially those most vulnerable, while keeping privacy at the core of our interest.

Digital safety risks are global and borderless. Terrorist propaganda is distributed across geopolitical boundaries, child sexual exploitation and abuse is committed around the world and shared online, and cybercriminals flout jurisdiction in launching spam and malware campaigns far and wide. We respect the unique roles and responsibilities of government, technology, and civil society to address complex whole-of-society challenges. This is why we actively support the important multi-stakeholder work of the Christchurch Call to Action to address terrorist and violent extremist content online and the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

As the European Union has actively wrestled with changes to the regulatory framework over many months, Microsoft has been an active participant in the discussion, working to help develop a responsible way forward that would allow us – and all of industry – to continue our important work to protect people, including children, from real threats. We have met with government leaders and policymakers; we have written letters and joined public debates and dialogues; and we have submitted statements about the efficacy of our customer protection practices. We know EU decision-makers are focused on ensuring that the regulatory framework provides European citizens, including children, the best possible protection against digital safety risks. We share this goal.

Today, as always, we remain committed to developing and deploying technology fit for Europe and to invest in technology, partnerships, and dialogue to advance digital safety in an increasingly complex world and online environment. In Europe and across the world, we will continue to support and assist in building legal certainty that advances safety, privacy, and security and reflects the diverse range and global use of online products and services.

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