Building on its primarily European roots, INHOPE, the international association of Internet hotlines, is seeking a “new path forward,” and is determined to be recognized as a global leader in the fight against online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
“INHOPE is not only an association of European hotlines, but international hotlines,” executive director Russell Chadwick told the newly formed INHOPE Advisory Board last month. “Nothing else matters more to us than taking down (child sexual abuse images).”
Along with nine other representatives from industry, law enforcement and civil society, I was invited last May to join the new Advisory Board. The group met for the first time on Sept. 17 at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, for a fruitful and information-filled day of education, conversation and idea-generation toward that new path forward. The Board’s role is to counsel INHOPE’s executive director, its executive committee and secretariat on organizational direction and strategy, as well as operational matters, including structural governance, growing the INHOPE name and brand, communications and fundraising.
With 51 members operating an equivalent number of Internet hotlines in 45 countries, INHOPE serves as a binding, umbrella entity, supplying training, operational support and data and intelligence to INHOPE members. In turn, the hotlines’ primary focus is to embrace INHOPE’s commitment “to eradicate [CSAM] from the Internet,” and to help decommission and remove such material when found. The hotlines address other forms of illegal and inappropriate content as well, depending on the jurisdiction. More than 170 analysts operate the hotlines and, last year alone, that group processed in excess of 1.2 million reports of illegal and inappropriate content lodged by consumers worldwide. (INHOPE does not collect or maintain data on what percentage of that total actually met the statutory definition of child pornography in the various geographies.)
Microsoft is honored to have been invited to join the Advisory Board and, following a rather extensive background discussion, as a group, we felt we made useful contributions and suggestions, and generated some interesting food for thought and go-forward ideas. It was encouraging to see industry, law enforcement, civil society and others come together to help bolster INHOPE in this way.
Microsoft has supported INHOPE for many years. The group’s valuable work is important to us as we too engage in the daily fight to remove and minimize illegal and inappropriate content on our services and on the public Internet. Working with Dartmouth College, we developed in 2009 our PhotoDNA technology, which is now used by us and several in industry to find, remove and report known “worst of the worst” online images of child sexual abuse. Also in 2009, Microsoft donated that technology to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)—a founding INHOPE member—and PhotoDNA has since become the industry standard for combating child pornography online.
I look forward to continuing to be a part of the INHOPE Advisory Board, and I am eager to witness the organization’s new focus and direction for 2015 and beyond.
For more about Microsoft’s support of INHOPE or to learn about our work in online safety and child online protection in general, visit our website; “like” us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter, and look for my “point of view” following the #MSFTCOSO hashtag.