By Lynette T. Owens
Today, we announced our membership to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) based in the UK. This has enabled us to expand the fight we began earlier this year to stop the online distribution of child sexual abuse images when we became the first security company to join the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) URL Project.
Both the IWF and NCMEC are dedicated to the elimination of such content from the Internet, which is illegal to view or possess in several countries. Both are tracking these images with the help of law enforcement groups like Interpol and the FBI. And both provide a list of URLs that contain child sexual abuse images to Internet service providers so that they can be taken down from the Internet.
While we are not legally obligated to do so, we have chosen to engage with organizations like the IWF and NCMEC to block our customers from viewing such images. We are already in the business of developing software that protects you from accessing websites that contain malicious software (designed to spy on or steal from you), that are hoaxes (designed to fool you into giving up information to criminals), or that aren’t age-appropriate for the kids in your house (porn, gambling, violence, even social networking sites). It seemed like a natural step to do what we already do and direct it to a very worthwhile cause.
On another level, and in the world of internet safety advocacy and education, we are also trying to protect the 13-year old who, out of natural curiosity, searches online for what he thinks are risqué adult images (which are not technically illegal to view or possess) but is instead presented with a web page that contains child pornography. He may or may not know it is illegal to view, but regardless of this, he has committed a crime – and possibly on his parents’ computer or phone.
This blocking capability is by no means a replacement for internet safety education. It is still critical to teach kids to stick to content that is age-appropriate, to tell them where the online boundaries are when it comes to the law, and to use security and filtering (or security with filtering) software on any Internet-connected device they use. They will make mistakes from time to time, so we try to provide the tools and technology to help them learn this in as safe an environment as we can provide.
Internet safety for kids encompasses such a broad range of issues, some of which Trend Micro is not necessarily expert in or does as part of its core business of security software. We choose to collaborate with many different types of organizations for this reason. But in the areas where we can bring to bear the resources and expertise of a 21-year old global company with thousands of employees around the world, I think it is our role as a responsible company to do so.
Find out more on our work with the Internet Watch Foundation and on our participation in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s URL Project.
And for more free tips and tools on Internet safety, go to www.trendmicro.com/internetsafety