A new initiative -- Project Protect -- announced by tech platforms and aimed at combating online child sexual exploration and abuse through a five-pillar plan puts technology, transparency, information sharing, structure, and other resources in place to support long-term goals.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Verizon Media, among others, are all part of the more than 14-year-old Technology Coalition that now says the latest project will establish a research and innovation fund to build tools.
“The world has changed since we first came together in 2006,” the coalition stated. “Technology is more advanced, and there has been an explosion of new Internet services, including mobile and online video streaming.”
The number of people online -- more than 4.5 billion in 2020, per the coalition -- has added to the challenge of keeping the internet a safe place to browse, engage and search for information.
The organization will publish an annual report on industry efforts, and create an annual forum of more than 40 experts worldwide to share best practices.
The coalition also plans to invest millions of dollars in research and publish annual reports on its progress in tackling abusive content. The goal during the next phase is to become a resource for the entire tech industry and organizations dedicated to preventing and eradicating child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The project aims to drive greater accountability and consistency across industry by sharing collective insights through reporting. The group also will create benchmarks to chart progress on actions taken, including the development of a maturity model for newer companies, inspired by the recent release of the Voluntary Principles to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse.