Tech Giants Join Forces With DHS In Herculean Battle Against Child Exploitation

By Lisa Pelgin | Thursday, 18 April 2024 05:15 AM
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Image Credit : Hindustan Times

In a bid to combat the rising tide of online child exploitation and abuse, a phenomenon that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has termed an "unimaginable horror," a new public awareness campaign has been launched.

The announcement was made by Mayorkas on Wednesday during an appearance on "CBS Mornings."

The campaign, dubbed Know2Protect, is a collaborative effort involving partners from both the public and private sectors. Its primary aim is to educate parents and children on how to identify, counter, and report instances of exploitation. The campaign also seeks to provide support for victims, who have been increasingly targeted in recent years.

"We just have to raise awareness and teach children, and everyone around them, how to recognize the predators, when they are about to be victimized, how to protect themselves and what to do," Mayorkas stated. He further emphasized the importance of remediation in the event of an occurrence, stating, "Those children come forward, the parents come forward, and we can address it, not only to help the victim, but also to hold the perpetrators accountable."

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Among the partners of the Know2Protect campaign are tech behemoths such as Google and Meta, who will disseminate information about the campaign on their platforms. Other partners include sports leagues such as NASCAR and the NFL, organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, and various law enforcement officials. The latter will aid in the development of relevant training programs for law enforcement.

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Antigone Davis, Meta's Global Head of Safety, also appeared on "CBS Mornings," where she underscored the tech company's commitment to preventing online abuse. Davis stated, "We're not trying to pass the buck to parents, but we all need to work together — whether that's DHS, whether it's us, whether it's parents to help protect kids online."

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In conjunction with the campaign's announcement, DHS released a host of resources for parents, including an internet safety checklist and tips for safeguarding children and teens online. These resources cover a range of topics, from password protection to privacy settings and location services.

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The launch of the Know2Protect campaign marks the federal government's inaugural prevention and awareness campaign aimed at addressing online child sexual exploitation. This comes in the wake of a surge in reports of child sexual exploitation, with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recording over 36 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation last year, a 12% increase from the previous year.

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The issue of online child exploitation has been a hot topic in recent times, with the Biden administration and Congress seeking to implement safeguards for children in an increasingly digital world. During a heated Senate hearing in January, leaders of prominent social media companies were chastised by lawmakers for their perceived lack of effort in protecting children from online sexual exploitation. This has led to ongoing, albeit largely unsuccessful, attempts to pass legislation regulating social media companies.

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