TechDigits

Tech news
Monday, May 20, 2024

App to block child abuse images gets £1.8m EU funding

App to block child abuse images gets £1.8m EU funding

The development of a new app designed to reduce online viewing of child sexual abuse material has received £1.8m of funding from the EU.

It will be tested with volunteers who have sought help because they are drawn to illegal images and want to ensure they cannot act on their desire.

Installed on devices such as phones, the app will identify and block harmful images and videos from being displayed.

It's hoped it can help combat "growing demand" for child abuse images.

The Protech project is a collaboration involving organisations from the EU and UK.

The project's app - called Salus - is intended to work in real-time, using artificial intelligence to identify potential child sexual abuse material and stop users from seeing it. It will also use other more conventional techniques to block content.

The Internet Watch Foundation, an organisation that works to find, flag and remove child abuse material, will help to train the AI technology developed by the UK company SafeToNet.

Tom Farrell of SafeToNet, who worked for 19 years in law enforcement, told the BBC the app was not intended to be a tool to report users to the police: "People who are voluntarily looking to stop themselves seeing child sexual abuse material quite clearly wouldn't use such a solution if they believe that it was going to report them to law enforcement."


'Practical aid'


Volunteers who download the app will be recruited via organisations working with individuals seeking help because they are drawn to online child abuse images.

One such organisation is British charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which operates a helpline for those who fear they may download illegal images and wish to stop. That includes a significant number of people who admit to being paedophiles, some of whom have already been convicted..

The foundation's Donald Findlater, said tools such as the new app could help individuals control their behaviour, adding: "it is a practical aid to people who recognise a vulnerability in themselves".


Members of the Protech project hope it could stem the "growing demand for child sexual abuse material online".

A new high of 30,925 offences that involved the possession and sharing of indecent images of children were committed in the year 2021/2022, according to the NSPCC.

Last year a report by the Police Foundation thinktank said that the volume of online child sexual abuse offences had "simply overwhelmed the ability of law enforcement agencies, internationally, to respond".

Project members who spoke to the BBC suggested that policing alone was not going to stop people downloading images.

Mr Farrell argues that the UK has arrested more individuals for possession of child sexual abuse material than any other country in the world since 2014 and in the process has identified some very serious offenders.

But millions of people still view images

"So arrest isn't going to be the solution. We think we can work on the prevention side and reduce the demand and reduce the accessibility."


'Pilot stage'


Many details of the operation of the app still need to be worked out. No AI is perfect and a balance will need to be struck between over-blocking - which would make legitimate use of a device difficult - and under-blocking - which fails to detect many abuse images.

Mr Farrell says the app will be tested in a "pilot stage" in five countries - Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, the Republic of Ireland and the UK with at least 180 users over an 11-month period.

And experts not involved in the project think the idea has promise.

Professor Belinda Winder of Nottingham Trent University said it was a welcome development that could support people who "want to be helped to resist their unhealthy urges, and who would benefit from this safety net".

As with all new tech tools, the devil would be in the detail and Prof Winder had questions about how it would work in practice but said: "It is a positive step in the right direction."

Newsletter

Related Articles

TechDigits
0:00
0:00
Close
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The future of sports
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
UK Crypto and Stablecoin Regulations Become Law as Royal Assent is Granted
A Delaware city wants to let businesses vote in its elections
Alef Aeronautics Achieves Historic Milestone with Flight Certification for World's First Flying Car
Google Blocked Access to Canadian News in Response to New Legislation
French Politicians Advocate for Pan-European Regulation on Social Media Influencers
Melinda French Gates Advocates for Increased Female Representation in AI to Prevent Bias
Snapchat+ gains 4 million paying subscribers in its first year
Apple Makes History as the First Public Company Valued at $3 Trillion
Elon Musk Implements Twitter Limits to Tackle Data Scraping, but Faces Criticism for Technical Misunderstanding
EU and UK's Slow Electric Vehicle Adoption Raises Questions About the Transition to Green Mobility
Top Companies Express Concerns Over Europe's Proposed AI Law, Citing Competitiveness and Investment Risks
Meta Unveils Insights on AI Usage in Facebook and Instagram, Amid Growing Calls for Transparency
Crypto Scams Against Seniors Soar by 78% in 2022, Experts Urge Vigilance
The End of an Era: National Geographic Dismisses Last of Its Staff Writers
Shield Your Wallet: The Perils of Wireless Credit Card Theft
Harvard Scientist Who Studies Honesty Accused Of Data Fraud, Put On Leave
Putting an End to the Subscription Snare: The Battle Against Unwitting Commitments
The Legal Perils of AI: Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Relying on Fictional Cases Generated by Chatbot
ChatGPT’s "Grandma Exploit": Ingenious Hack Exposes Loophole in AI, Generates Free Software Codes
The Disney Downturn: A Near Billion-Dollar Box Office Blow for the House of Mouse
A Digital Showdown: Canada Challenges Tech Giants with The Online News Act, Meta Strikes Back
Distress in the Depths: Submersible and Passengers Missing in Titanic Wreckage Expedition
Mark Zuckerberg stealing another idea: Twitter
European Union's AI Regulations Risk Self-Sabotage, Cautions smart and brave Venture Capitalist Joe Lonsdale
Nvidia GPUs are so hard to get that rich venture capitalists are buying them for the startups they invest in
Chinese car exports surge
Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Communities Protest "Ludicrous" Pricing Changes
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
×