Google, Microsoft, other tech giants forge plan to fight child sex abuse

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June 11 (UPI) -- A coalition of tech leaders including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter announced a plan Thursday to rid the Internet of child sexual abuse.

The Technology Coalition, established almost 15 years ago to fight child sexual exploitation online, said working together the companies can make a sizable impact. Growth in technology, it said, has made it more difficult to consistently fight sexual crimes against children.

"The world has changed since we first came together in 2006," the coalition said in a statement. "Technology is more advanced, and there has been an explosion of new Internet services, including mobile and online video streaming.

"The number of people online -- more than 4.5 billion in 2020 -- has added to the challenge of keeping the internet a safe place."

The coalition proposed a five-pillar plan to reinforce a cross-industry approach to combating child sex abuse and exploitation, establish a research fund to create tracking tools, publish an annual progress report and start a forum to share best practices.

The coalition said it's working with the WePROTECT Global Alliance, an international group that fights child violence worldwide.

"[The plan] brings together the brightest minds from across the tech industry to tackle a grave issue that no one company can solve on its own," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said.

The coalition said because predators have gotten more creative, they have taken their crimes to popular online gaming platforms like Roblox to target children. The move led Roblox to employ machine learning and human moderators to review and block child abuse materials.

Tech companies have occasionally conflicted with law enforcement over encryption it on services like WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Authorities say such security measures sometimes hinder child exploitation investigations.

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