A Better Online Experience for Kids
By: John Vassallo, Vice President - EU Affairs
30 November 2011

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Today, Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced the CEO Coalition on Child Online Safety. Microsoft is pleased to be a founding member of this coalition.

The purpose of the Coalition is to bring together industry and government leaders to discuss best practices in protecting and empowering children online and address in pragmatic and effective ways some of the most complex and nuanced online safety and privacy challenges encountered by young people today.  There will be a series of working groups and we look forward to discussing our processes and innovative technologies as part of this effort.

We also believe such collective joint efforts, involving all major industry players in the digital ecosystem including hardware manufacturers, technology companies, content creators, and online product and service providers, are necessary to achieving real progress in the area of online safety. As the world of technology continues to evolve, Microsoft believes that partnerships and cooperation with a wider network – from policy to tech to child safety advocates – such as the CEO Coalition are increasingly critical to making an impact.

Partnering with the child safety experts

We are also proud of our ongoing partnerships with organizations such as Insafe, the Family Online Safety Institute and exceptional national organizations like Nobody’s Children Foundation in Poland, Child Focus in Belgium and, Save the Children in Italy and Romania. By working closely with partners, schools and other organizations around Europe in Safer Internet Day inspired campaigns in 2011. Microsoft volunteers have trained almost 100,000 parents, children and teachers in 26 countries. Our ambition is to continue these efforts well into the future as part of a holistic approach to online safety.

Innovating for safety

A particular pressing common goal we share with legislators and advocacy groups is the fight against sexual child abuse. To that end, 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 Center 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 and has made PhotoDNA available for others to use at no charge. We will continue working to deploy PhotoDNA technology in Europe - as a method to identify, remove and report child sexual abuse images.

There is not a “one size fits all” solution and online safety considerations may differ based on particular services, products or technologies but more can be done when we partner together. We are therefore pleased to be part of the CEO coalition process.

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