By Joshua Isaac
Child exploitation is a large, growing, and underestimated problem, and, sadly, the Internet offers predators of children a new mode for carrying out an old, disturbing crime. But Microsoft is doing its part to turn off online child predators.
“As a company with a history of delivering fine products, we’ve never had to face this type of problem, but with the growth of the Internet, the problem of child exploitation is expanding worldwide and reaching crisis proportions,” said Hemanshu Nigam, an attorney with Law and Corporate Affairs. “Microsoft is increasingly concerned with the security and safety of the online-computing experience. We don’t want the Internet to be sabotaged by child pornographers, child predators, or others who seek to harm children.”
The company’s efforts in this area led to the creation of the Children’s CyberSafety Council, co-chaired by Nigam and Pam Portin, director of policy for MSN. The council has coordinated Microsoft’s participation with external agencies, including Microsoft’s partnership with the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Pam Portin, director of policy for MSN and co-chair of Microsoft’s Children’s CyberSafety Council, poses Dec. 1 in Lyon, France, with Ruben Rodriguez, director of domestic and international law-enforcement affairs with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. During the conference, Microsoft received a plaque from Interpol, an international police organization, in appreciation of the company’s ongoing support in the fight against the online exploitation of children.
On Dec. 1, the council backed an effort to support the international community’s heightened endeavor to address the growing problem of child safety on the Internet. Microsoft teamed with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and Interpol, an international police organization with 181 member countries, to launch an international training program for law-enforcement officials who investigate computer-facilitated crimes against children. ICMEC plans to conduct eight to 10 intensive training programs per year around the world, the first of which began the same day as the announcement and ran through Dec. 4 at Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France, with more than 40 countries represented.
“We’re taking proactive steps to team with law enforcement because helping secure cyberspace cannot be done alone,” Nigam said. “We believe that Internet-based crimes against children must be addressed through government and private partnerships.”
The Children’s CyberSafety Council also is working internally at Microsoft to raise cross-group awareness of law-enforcement issues in the online child-exploitation arena and to assist product groups in developing products and features that facilitate Microsoft’s commitment to a safer, more secure online experience for children.
“We are asking employees to keep in mind when developing a product or feature what impact it can have on a kid or how a criminal might misuse it,” Portin said. “Additionally, employees can understand the issues and do their part to educate family and friends. For example, parents should coach children when they first go online just like they would when coaching a child to walk to school by themselves.”
To learn more about online safety, visit http://www.staysafeonline.com/.