WePROTECT: Combating online child sexual abuse with the MSM

6 Dec 2016 13:00h - 14:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

The chair of the session, Mr Ernie Allen, Advisory Board Member, WePROTECT, introduced the discussion topic by highlighting that the ‘Internet is both space of opportunity as well as exploitation, that too with virtual anonymity’. He also quoted UK Prime Minister David Cameroon’s view on child online exploitation as ‘a major international crime of scale’.  He briefly introduced the work commenced by WePROTECT in 70 countries, bringing 20 major technology companies and other stakeholders together. He highlighted that WePROTECT directly addresses UN SDG 16.2 ‘End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children’.

Ms Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft, Board Member,  WePROTECT, presented the details of innovative technology such as PhotoDNA, that was  released by Microsoft in 2009, and the impact these technologies are having on reporting and deletion of undesireable content. She emphasized the need for collaboration between the various stakeholders to ensure that development in this space is constant and sustainable. She also touched upon how nations can use guidance from the recently released ‘Model National Response Guide’ to develop models for reporting and operational mechanisms of taking down objectionable content.

A national NGO representative from Brazil, Mr Thiago Tavares, praised the work currently undertaken by WePROTECT and termed it a game changer in many ways. He explained how the helpline currently operated by his NGO has been helping children and other victims of of cyberbullying and child pornography in a holistic way. He also emphasized the role of legislation..

Ms Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), highlighted the role of independent global NGOs such as IWF in bringing multistakeholders together to address global challenges such as ensuring child online protection. Hargreaves said that the IWF maintains a constant fight and vigilance to remove objectionable content. She presented the following statistics from the operations of the IWF in UK

  • 68,000 individual web pages were removed from the Internet after being reported as containing objectionable content
  • There has been more than 100% increase in the Category A and B content that was removed
  • The images reported and taken down were more than 80% girls, with more than 60% of thesewhat a less than 10 years of age

Ms Clara Sommarin, Child Protection Specialist, Exploitation and Violence, presented a case study of a project reaching 30 million people in 17 countries (5 from Latin America, 2 from the Middle East, 3 from Eastern Europe, 3 from Asia, 4 from Africa). The project encompasses national coordination on child online exploitation reporting and coordination. She also reiterated the role of strict policies and legislation against child exploitation online as well as offline. She termed this project as a ‘True example of demonstrating multistakeholderism for a larger global good.’

by Mohit Saraswat, Internet Society UAE