Fighting child exploitation as an industry

and adult and child use a computer

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. We’ve developed and shared technologies such as PhotoDNA and a grooming detection technique, we’re investing in research to help better understand the problem, we’re participating in collective action and are working to educate consumers about keeping kids safe. We also know this problem will not be solved by one company and that it requires us to work together as an industry and across society.

We are proud to be a founding member of the Technology Coalition in 2006, but the world has changed since then. Technology is more advanced, and there has been an explosion of new internet services and companies around the globe, including mobile and online video streaming. 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 child sexual exploitation and abuse content have become more sophisticated, but so too have the forms of abuse we are seeking to prevent and eradicate.

This week, we joined leading technology companies in announcing Project Protect, a strategic vision for the future of the Technology Coalition focusing on five key areas:

  • Tech innovation: Microsoft is proud to have contributed important technology including PhotoDNA and a grooming detection technique to this fight, and recognizes the importance of accelerating development and usage of groundbreaking, interoperable technology to address new abuse vectors.
  • Collective action: Convening tech companies, governments and civil society to create a holistic approach to tackle this whole-of-society issue. We all have a role to play and believe collaboration must be a catalyst for deeper commitment. Our recent efforts include developing a series of targeted public announcements to help parents, caregivers and children stay safe at home – and stay safe online – during the challenging times of COVID-19.
  • Independent research: Funding research with the End Violence Against Children Partnership to advance our collective understanding of the experiences and patterns of child sexual exploitation and abuse online, and learn from effective efforts to prevent, deter and combat it.
  • Information and knowledge sharing: We recognize that abuse often starts on one platform and migrates to others. By facilitating information, expertise and knowledge-sharing among companies, we can advance our ability to respond to these challenges and, importantly, help small and mid-size companies advance the fight.
  • Transparency and accountability: Increasing accountability and consistency across the industry through meaningful reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse content across member platforms and services. This will be done in conjunction with WePROTECT Global Alliance.

These focus areas are the result of significant research and expert consultation conducted by Technology Coalition member companies as well as what each of us have learned through fighting this horrific problem on our respective platforms. We know this announcement must be followed by hard work and concrete action, and we at Microsoft look forward to making contributions in these areas alongside the other companies in ways that produce real results.

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