Family Online Safety Institute joins fight against child sexual abuse

The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) is expanding its focus and has relaunched its Global Resource and Information Directory, or GRID, to explicitly include combatting child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Microsoft has supported FOSI and GRID since it was first launched in 2010. We are also actively engaged in the WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online, started three years ago and still led by the U.K. government.

At an event in London earlier this week, FOSI, a long-standing promoter of family and child safety on the Internet, announced it was broadening GRID’s scope to include projects and programs aimed at preventing, prohibiting and prosecuting Internet crimes against children. GRID has always captured and catalogued the challenges and responses to online safety issues around the world, but the new GRID will make combatting child sexual exploitation a priority.

GRID’s rebuild was sponsored by the UNICEF Global Fund to End Violence Against Children. Over the next four years, the fund will receive a total of £50M for programs designed to combat the online availability of child sexual abuse imagery. All of this work is part of the WePROTECT Global Alliance.

“From policymakers looking to enact online abuse legislation to NGOs and academics seeking information on the most recent trends, GRID serves as a central resource of research, data and other best practices to keep children safe online around the globe,” said Stephen Balkam, FOSI’s founder and CEO. “GRID’s global, multi-stakeholder approach is a crucial tool in the fight to end online child abuse worldwide.”

It was only natural for Microsoft to participate and help to sponsor the re-launch. Indeed, all of industry has a unique role to play in helping to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material online. We create and invest in innovative and disruptive technologies; we establish and manage self-governance programs; we educate and inform the global public about online risks, and we partner with others for increased impact and results. This expansion of GRID is but the latest example of the WePROTECT multi-stakeholder model at work.

WePROTECT engages governments, law enforcement agencies, the technology industry and civil society to grow an online culture dedicated to preventing and mitigating risks to children; developing technological tools to detect and remove illegal child sexual abuse imagery; and promoting best practices. Following the most recent WePROTECT Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, 63 countries have signed on to a statement of action to help curtail the spread of this material online. Dozens of companies and NGOs have also signed statements of action, pledging support and initiatives from their sectors.

Karen Bradley, U.K. Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime, presided over the FOSI GRID event, noting the dissemination of child sexual abuse material online is one of the most challenging issues we face as a global society. “This government is at the forefront of the global fight to keep children safe and we are proud to support this tool to share expertise from around the world. It is imperative … we remain one step ahead of the perpetrators to protect children no matter where they live in the world.”

To learn more about Microsoft’s work in fighting online child sexual exploitation and abuse, download our Building Global Trust Online booklet for Online Safety, and visit the online safety program pages of the YouthSpark Hub, where we regularly add new resources on various topics. You can also “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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