Priti Patel announces digital fund to fight online exploitation

17th November, 2021 8:05 am

Priti Patel has announced a £555,000 fund for tech companies to find new ways to combat child exploitation and abuse online.

The home secretary, who is in Washington for talks with her US counterpart, said that social media companies had “a moral duty to end the exploitation”.

The safety tech fund will aim to stamp out child abuse without affecting a user’s rights to privacy and data protection in their communications.

Five projects from companies in Edinburgh, Poole and London will receive an initial £85,000 to help bring their technical proposals for digital tools and applications to the market.

Patel will meet Alejandro Mayorkas, the US homeland security secretary, and senior members of Congress who are campaigning against Facebook’s plans to encrypt messages in an effort to find technology that can continue to catch child abuse on its platforms.

“Children are being subject to abhorrent abuse through online platforms because the giant technology companies are putting profit before the safety and protection of children and the public,” Patel said.

“Concerted international action by all governments is required to stop global technology giants from pursuing end-to-end encryption plans that severely restrict the ability of law enforcement across the world to tackle abhorrent crimes and protect victims.”

The new fund would “show that it is entirely possible to use end-to-end encryption without obstructing efforts to stamp out child abuse”.

Patel added: “I urge our international allies, including the US, to back the UK’s message to the social media companies: public safety must be central to your systems — the protection of our children depends on it.”

Source: The Times

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