Voluntarism just isn’t working. Again.

Another excellent major story  has appeared in The New York Times. It details the failings of high tech businesses to address the scourge of child sex abuse still images and videos on the internet. The failures of voluntarism are again manifest.

If  child safety and security were really embedded in a company’s culture, if it was indeed a top priority, stories like these would simply not be possible. Yet they have been appearing for years.

Truly, when technology companies cannot get this right what confidence does this inspire in their ability to get anything right?

Too many companies appear only to shift when a judge or smart journalists finally nail them. The NYT deserves a medal for giving these journalists, Gabriel Dance and Michael Keller, the space and resources to pursue the story, which they have been doing for a great many months.

The only parallel I can think of in the UK is the  support given by The Guardian for Carol Cadwallader’s reporting on Cambridge Analytica and, earlier, on the work done around the Snowden revelations. Why is British journalism in this state? Because high tech businesses have been winning all the advertising revenues that previously supported solid journalism.   What you might call an unvirtuous circle.

Historically journalists have been an important pillar of democracy but if tech neuters or reduces the capacity of journalism where does that leave us? Who benefits?


About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was renewed in 2018. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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