News story

Internet experts share new techniques to battle online child sexual exploitation

Industry chiefs meet in London today (Thursday 3 September) to discuss innovative methods for tackling online child sexual exploitation.

WePROTECT

Representatives from companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft will present techniques to prevent sexual abuse images appearing in search results, identify online grooming and detect and remove videos of children being abused.

International delegates attending the two day summit will hear from members of the WePROTECT initiative on progress made since last December’s summit, which was hosted by the Prime Minister. At the summit he expressed his determination to eradicate online child sexual exploitation.

As agreed at the London summit, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has recently started to provide digital fingerprints of images – known as ‘hashes’ – to industry partners in order to speed up the identification and removal of child sexual abuse content worldwide.

This event follows a groundbreaking industry forum in spring 2014 at which technical experts collaborated with child protection professionals to develop new approaches to tackle the crime.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said:

We are at a watershed moment in facing up to the scale of online child sexual exploitation. This is a complex global crime that requires a sophisticated international response.

We must confront this threat head on. The government has allocated additional funding of £10 million to the National Crime Agency to track down offenders and protect children, and our Child Abuse Image Database will reduce the time taken to identify illegal images.

The government is leading the fight, alongside partners from industry, law enforcement and the charity sector. We will not stop battling until this deeply harmful crime has been eradicated for good.

The event, hosted by Ernst and Young, will begin with an overview of the threat posed by online child sexual exploitation as assessed by the National Crime Agency’s CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Command.

Minister for Internet Safety and Security Baroness Shields said:

The government is committed to supporting pioneering new technologies to make the Internet safer for Children. Over two years the WePROTECT alliance has developed breakthrough solutions for protecting children from digital predators. Today we are expanding WePROTECT to a global audience of companies.

Ever more ubiquitous internet access and offenders belief that they can remain anonymous online has led to an explosion of crimes that threaten vulnerable children all over the world. This means we need to be quicker, smarter, and more innovative that those who aim to harm and exploit children.

Today’s event brings together the best brains in the technology industry in a unified mission to free the Internet of exploitation and abuse.

The WePROTECT Summit in December 2014 brought together delegations from more than 50 countries, 26 leading technology companies and 10 non-governmental organisations to deliver a coordinated global response to online child sexual exploitation.

At the Summit, the Prime Minister announced a series of new measures to improve the global response to online child sexual exploitation, including new collaboration between the NCA and GCHQ using the latest techniques to target online offenders and a £50 million global fund to tackle violence against children.

The government has also set up the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), which will ensure victims of online abuse can be identified more quickly and offenders brought to justice.

Published 3 September 2015