Tech giants unveil new collective plans to tackle online child abuse content

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Tech giants including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have announced a new joint effort designed to better tackle child sexual abuse content online.

The firms, speaking as part of the existing Technology Coalition of digital firms, have announced Project Protect – which it says will improve the cross-industry approach to stopping child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) content appearing online.

The project includes a “five pillar” plan consisting of pushing innovation in technology to detect and stop such content, encouraging more collective action, funding more independent research, increased information sharing and greater transparency and accountability.

Project Protect will also establish a multi-million euro research and innovation fund to support the building of new tools to prevent the spread of CSEA content, as well as create a new forum of experts and a commitment to publish annual progress reports on industry efforts.

The Technology Coalition, formed in 2006, is a partnership of 18 technology companies of various sizes, which includes tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Snapchat.

The coalition said it was also working with The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (EVAC) and the WeProtect Global Alliance as part of the project.

On the new plans, Internet Watch Foundation chief executive Susie Hargreaves said: “I’m delighted to see a renewed commitment by the technology industry to fight child sexual exploitation and abuse online with the launch of Project Protect.

“It’s imperative that companies come together and fight this in partnership in order to gain real results, for children.” Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker said the scheme will help firms share “progress, learnings, and cutting-edge tools” to help fight the problem, adding that “no company can fight this problem alone”.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said the project “brings together the brightest minds from across the tech industry to tackle a grave issue” while Twitter’s head of trust and safety Del Harvey said the firm welcomed the “renewed effort to collaborate with our peers”.

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