Five major online companies 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.