How Technology Could Help Find a Solution to Online Child Safety

2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the Internet – one of the greatest innovations of our time and most valuable resources. However, while there’s little doubt it’s an incredible tool, it’s also a hugely dangerous one, with effective policing and security of online behavior still in its infancy.

As a parent myself, I’m forever wary of the dangers the internet poses not only to my own son but to the younger generation across the world. So I was delighted to recently join some of the most influential industry, law enforcement and government leaders at a 10 Downing Street-backed conference to debate and discuss future solutions to online child safety.

Tim Griffin of Dell UK meets with Prime Minister David Cameron

At Dell, we have a deep understanding of the global security market through our holistic and connected approach, which spans from endpoint to datacenter to cloud, and helps to solve today’s most complex security and compliance problems including fraudulent online behaviour. Over the last 12 months, we’ve been applying this industry expertise through our active involvement in the WeProtect programme – a forum set up by the Prime Minister’s Digital Advisor Joanna Shields to tackle the critical issue of online child abuse.

This week’s summit was an opportunity for everyone to reflect on the discussions they’ve had over the year and to put to work their expertise in applying practical solutions to some of the most pressing child exploitation issues. During the conference, industry leaders were split into six streams to address a particular challenge we could potentially tackle through the development of new technology solutions.

Joining us to look at the issue of identifying and protecting victims were Visa and two of our small business partners Relative Insight and Evidence Talks. Together, we looked at how Visa’s current metrics process to identify online fraudulent behavior, could be applied to conversations being had in chat-rooms by underage children. This is undoubtedly a complex issue but one we all felt could be addressed by empowering the young with the information they need to make their own decisions. The solution we came up with was a backend intelligence system linked into the central intelligence database to identify photos, information etc. sent by potential paedophiles to children.  This would allow children to be issued with an online warning if they are interacting with someone who is not who they say they are.

The feedback on our proposal, which Dell presented to the conference, was extremely positive with delegates enthusiastic around the potential of the solution we helped identify. Similarly the Rt. Hon. Teresa May MP, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister, David Cameron made specific visits to our stand where we were demonstrating the solution and thanked us for the work we have undertaken and agreed on the future potential of our project. In fact, he was so supportive of our work that in his speech he subsequently made specific reference to the solution we are proposing.

It was a fantastic and really encouraging couple of days, with everyone focused on ensuring that some of the solutions presented can be quickly moved forward to help technology become an active protector of online child abuse rather than an enabler.

About the Author: Tim Griffin