Online Industry Leaders Announce New Effort to Use Advanced Technologies to Help Combat Child Exploitation
June 27, 2006, Five major online companies today announced that they are joining with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch an aggressive new campaign against child exploitation on the Internet. AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft, EarthLink and United Online will fund a new Technology Coalition within NCMEC to develop and deploy technology solutions that disrupt the ability of predators to use the Internet to exploit children or traffic in child pornography.
The Technology Coalition will have four principal objectives:
* – Developing and Implementing Technology Solutions: By identifying and developing existing and new technologies that can detect and disrupt the distribution of known images of child exploitation on the Internet.
* – Improving Knowledge Sharing Among Industry: By establishing a centralized clearinghouse for known images of child pornography and other information that network operators can use to combat or block child pornography.
* – Improving Law Enforcement Tools: By researching and developing tools for law enforcement to assist in the location and identification of predators and distributors of child pornography.
* – Research Perpetrators’ Technologies to Enhance Industry Efforts: By evaluating the specific and emerging technologies used by child predators to exploit children and conceal their activity.
The participating companies have pledged one million dollars in combined initial funding to establish the Technology Coalition. Beyond financial support, the Coalition companies also agreed to offer the full backing of their collective experience, knowledge, and expertise in helping NCMEC address these issues.
“Child predators take advantage of Internet technologies not only to help distribute images of child exploitation, but also to attempt to conceal their criminal behavior,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of NCMEC. “These leading companies have a wealth of expertise and technological tools that can help protect children and reduce the proliferation of sexually abusive images of children. Similar tools have been used to protect users from other Internet-related threats, such as spam, phishing and viruses. Now they can also be applied to this fight against child pornographers.”
The Coalition’s initiatives would be structured to ensure that privacy interests of Internet users are appropriately balanced with its mission to eradicate child pornography.
The participating Coalition companies announced that an organizational conference would be held in July 2006 to draft its charter and to evaluate a timeline for identification and deployment of technologies.
“It may not be possible to eradicate all threats to children online, any more than it is possible to protect children from all threats in the physical world,” said John Ryan, Chief Counsel of AOL. “However, by better leveraging 21st century technologies, we believe it is possible to increase the chance that child predators will be caught and provide a deterrent to those who would be tempted to exploit children on the Internet. The proposed Coalition would employ the best minds of the Internet industry to develop deterrent strategies and technologies.”
“The unity of action behind this proposal is important because child safety is truly an industry issue,” said Elizabeth Banker, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Yahoo!. “This initiative is an expansion of Yahoo!’s long-term relationship with NCMEC and our industry peers, and we look forward to making real progress through the Coalition.”
“Microsoft is steadfast in our commitment to combat all forms of child exploitation on the Internet,” said Tim Cranton, Director of Internet Safety Enforcement Programs at Microsoft Corp. “Our partnership with NCMEC and other online industry leaders in this technology initiative is an essential next step in the effort to identify and implement technology solutions that can help protect children from Internet predators and inappropriate online material.”
“As the Internet’s importance in our daily lives has grown, so has the need for tools and technologies to better protect children from predators,” said Dave Baker, Vice President of Law and Public Policy at EarthLink. “By joining with our peers and NCMEC, we can better assist law enforcement and empower the public to help keep children safe.”
“This is an extremely important global issue,” said Brooke Squire, Vice President, Corporate Counsel of United Online. “We look forward to working closely with our peers and with NCMEC to develop solutions to help protect the children of the world.”
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which serves as a national clearinghouse for information and a resource for child protection. It works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC’s congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled 387,800 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 119,800 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 102,200 children. For more information about NCMEC, please visit www.missingkids.com or call 1-800-THE-LOST.
AOL and its subsidiaries operate a leading network of Web brands and the largest Internet access subscription service in the United States. Web brands include the AOL.com® website, AIM®, MapQuest® and Netscape®. AOL offers a range of digital services in the areas of education, safety and security, communications and music. The company also has operations in Europe and Canada. AOL LLC is a majority-owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) and is based in Dulles, Virginia.
About Yahoo! Inc.
Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! seeks to provide online products and services essential to users’ lives, and offers a full range of tools and marketing solutions for businesses to connect with Internet users around the world. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
“EarthLink. We revolve around you®.” As the nation’s next generation Internet service provider, Atlanta-based EarthLink has earned an award-winning reputation for outstanding customer service and its suite of online products and services. Serving over five million subscribers, EarthLink offers what every user should expect from their Internet experience: high-quality connectivity, minimal online intrusions and customizable features. Whether it’s dial-up, high-speed, voice, web hosting, wireless or “EarthLink Extras” like home networking or security, EarthLink connects people to the power and possibilities of the Internet. Learn more about EarthLink by calling (800) EARTHLINK or visiting EarthLink’s Web site at www.EarthLink.net.
About United Online
United Online, Inc. (Nasdaq:UNTD) is a leading provider of consumer Internet and media services through a number of brands, including NetZero, Juno, Classmates and MyPoints. The company’s Communications services include Internet access, email and VoIP. The company’s Content & Media services include social networking and online loyalty marketing. United Online is headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA, with offices in New York City, NY; Renton, WA; San Francisco, CA; Schaumburg, IL; Orem, UT; Erlangen, Germany; and Hyderabad, India. For more information about United Online, please visit http://www.untd.com.
America Online is a registered trademark of Time Warner.
EarthLink and the EarthLink logo are registered trademarks of EarthLink, Inc.
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Yahoo! and the Yahoo! logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Yahoo! Inc.
The names of actual products and services mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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