Five Countries and tech firms agree groundbreaking principles to keep children safe online

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Today, Five Country partners have launched a set of Voluntary Principles for how tech firms can keep children and young people safe online.

Who are the Five Country partners?

Five Country partners are devoted to giving children the online freedom and security they deserve. The Five Country partners are made up of the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

What are the Voluntary Principles?

At an event at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse were formally launched. They are a set of 11 actions tech firms should take to ensure children are not sexually exploited on their platforms.
These 11 principles are split into six different categories:

  • preventing child sexual abuse material from appearing
  • target online grooming and predatory behaviour
  • target live streaming
  • a specialised approach for children
  • victim/survivor considerations collaborate and respond to evolving threat
  • search

Among these companies to endorse the principles were Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat and Roblox.

What are the UK government doing to tackle online child sexual abuse?

The government will launch a first-of-its-kind Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, which will set out an ambitious range of cross-government activity to lock down on offenders, safeguard children and support victims. Recently, the government also announced £30m extra funding for law enforcement to help them tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“It is truly horrific that thousands of sick paedophiles are preying on vulnerable children from across the world. This scandal requires our global partners to work together, and these principles provide a blueprint for delivering just that.

“I want this landmark collaboration across borders and sectors to define a stronger, new, united approach.”

Further measures

Further measures have included:

  • the UK government co-hosted a summit in December where 93 countries convened to drive a global response to this global crime
  • the development of Project Artemis by Microsoft and other companies following a Hackathon co-hosted by the Home Office and Microsoft, which will use artificial intelligence to identify and block child grooming conversations
  • upgrades to the ground-breaking Child Abuse Image Database will allow law enforcement to speed up investigations and safeguard more children
  • progressing Online Harms Legislation, which will place a statutory duty of care on tech companies to keep their users safe online, overseen by an independent regulator.

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