BlackBerry, Windows makers join fight against child exploitation

The Virtual Global Taskforce adds four private sector partners to crime-fighting squad.

RIM and Microsoft have joined a growing number of ICT companies committed to fighting tech crimes against children, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

RIM, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, World Vision Australia and The Code have joined the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) as private sector partners. They join existing industry partners Paypal and four others.

“When it comes to combating online sexual exploitation, a collaborative approach is critical,” VGT AFP assistant commissioner, Neil Gaughan, said in a statement. "These new partnerships will assist VGT law enforcement agency members in sharing best practices and exploring new technologies to support innovative thinking to reduce the threat to children online."

VGT plans to use RIM’s mobile apps for protecting children from harmful content and take advantage of the BlackBerry maker’s global developer community, the AFP said.

“Device security is vitally important to protect children and other vulnerable groups from cyber threats that can be used to exploit children online,” said RIM legal director for public safety operations, Fred Nesbitt.

VGT aims to use several Microsoft projects: an image matching technology called PhotoDNA that helps law enforcement quickly identify victims, Microsoft’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program and the company’s Child Exploitation Tracking System.

“There should be no place on the Internet that a person can hide if that person has molested a child,” Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit associate general counsel, Bill Harmon, said in a statement.

World Vision Australia is a child-focused social organization that tracks emerging trends and best practices preventing and responding to child sexual exploitation. The Code works with the tourism industry to protect children from travelling child sex offenders.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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