LONDON, Sept. 3, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Ahead of the Home Secretary's speech today (Monday 3 September) on the Government's commitment to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation, a viewpoint from PA Consulting is below.
PA Consulting is at the forefront of developing ways to protect our children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. PA is a founding partner of the WePROTECT Global Alliance (currently led by the UK government) to stop online child sexual abuse and have produced the Global Threat Assessment report, to drive a global response to protecting children. PA is also working to develop the principles and tools to help children and young people stay safe online (information on this below).
Nick Newman, security expert at PA Consulting, comments: "If the Home Secretary's plans are to succeed then collaboration between international governments, law enforcement organisations, the technology industry and children's charities is vital. We need a better co-ordinated approach to industry engagement from the government and law enforcement organisations. This is not a problem that any single country or institution can handle alone. The whole community needs to work together to find global solutions.
"There is much more that can be done to protect children from online sexual exploitation and to create a more hostile environment for offenders. The biggest challenge is to find the right balance between security and privacy, as citizens won't tolerate excessive intrusion, but neither will they forgive technology companies who fail to take adequate responsibility for preventing 'no go' areas on the internet, where criminals and paedophiles can operate with impunity.
"Traditional responses to the threat have focused on catching the offenders or supporting the victims after the harm is caused. The answer is to empower children, by giving them the information they need to protect themselves online. An online equivalent of the 'green cross code', encouraging children to recognise the risks and make better decisions, is needed to better protect our children. With smarter use of technology and improved collaboration, we can help young people better identify risks when they are online."
PA's guiding principles for mitigating the risk from Child Sexual Exploitation
In the same way that banks and credit card companies alert customers when they suspect fraudulent transactions, we believe the same Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications should be used to send children automated alerts when dangers are detected in their online chats. We've outlined five principles that would guide chat providers to offer real-time, relevant risk information:
- Instant. An alert is only useful if you see it, and in today's busy digital environment, every screen element is vying for attention. To combat this, alerts are shown in situ as soon as the risk is detected. A chat bubble appearing in the conversation, for example.
- Specific. People quickly become immune to general warnings, alerts and notifications, which could be more harmful as they think they have more protection than they do. Alerts are specific to the user, their situation and their current chat. This means all alerts briefly outline the risk and are only shown to the child or vulnerable person.
- Relevant. Cybersecurity awareness has taught us all to be wary of anything that doesn't fit into the look and feel of a page, so alerts are as engaging as the chat itself to avoid being ignored. They should be in the same style as the chat so the severity of the alert is interpreted correctly and there's no suggestion that someone else is watching. This also avoids alert fatigue, which could make children ignore the service.
- Private. Technology that keeps people safe must be trusted. To help this, alerts must trust children to do the right thing by educating them and giving them the option to make a decision. The alerts also need to be kept separate from reports to law enforcement. The alerts also need to be kept separate from reports to law enforcement. PA's online tool doesn't excuse a chat provider from any legal reporting requirements in their country, but adds a layer of online safety.
- Supportive. Alerts are an educational tool that should help change behaviour. They should give the information needed to make an informed decision about what to do next. However, online risk isn't simple and it's unlikely any alert will offer enough information, so links should be included where a child can find out more or connect with people who can help. If they're left with questions, or uncertainty over the reason for the alert, this doubt will either be answered by the person who triggered the warning, or could cause the child to ignore it completely.
Notes to editors
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SOURCE PA Consulting