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Microsoft Joins Battle for Child Friendly Internet

Microsoft has joined The European Commission’s CEO Coalition on Child Online Safety, bringing its extensive experience and technical knowledge into the fight to make the internet a safer place for children.

The coalition brings together government and industry leaders to discuss the best practices and build effective solutions to the challenges that young people face on the internet. Within this effort there are five working groups each tackling a different area of online safety.

One of the key areas that the coalition will focus on is the effective take down of child abuse content. Peter Cullen, General Manager, Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft discussed how Microsoft has been working towards this before joining the coalition, and how their pioneering technology will help, in a post on the company’s blog.

He said: “Microsoft is working with thought leaders around the world on advancing effective mechanisms to find, remove and report child-exploitive content online, including technologies like PhotoDNA. Microsoft, in partnership with Dartmouth College and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), developed PhotoDNA, an image-matching technology that helps find and remove some of the worst-known child pornography images from the internet.

“Internally, Microsoft has implemented PhotoDNA on Hotmail, SkyDrive and Bing to help stop the spread of these images through these platforms. The company has also made PhotoDNA available for others to use at no charge. As a result, Facebook also uses PhotoDNA globally, and we continue to work with others in industry, government and law enforcement on new ways PhotoDNA technology and other efforts can help combat child sexual exploitation in Europe and worldwide.”

Microsoft is involved in ratings and classification schemes such as Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for games, and more recently has supported efforts to extend these regimes to mobile applications and another one of the working groups of this coalition will work towards developing a comprehensive content classification of all content directed at children.

In line with this the collective also aim to develop defined criteria for age-appropriate privacy settings and increase the availability and uptake of essential parental controls.

The final group will work towards establishing the feasibility of implementing a consistent abuse mechanism for easy reporting of issues across online experiences in Europe.

Cullen continued in his blog post: “Microsoft has observed that governments that bring together multi-stakeholder groups to tackle these issues through a shared responsibility model have yielded the most balanced approaches to online safety, as there is no “one size fits all” solution, and online safety considerations may differ based on a particular service, product or technology.

“Indeed, the governments that take a balanced and holistic approach to online safety through cooperative partnerships, sound public policies, robust education and awareness programs, and sensible use of technology tools, have demonstrated the greatest success. This is why Microsoft is pleased to continue working to advance improvements in this area as a company, and to be part of the CEO Coalition process, as more can be done when we partner together to achieve real, sustainable impact in the area of child online safety.”

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