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Big tech firms join in child protection Lantern initiative

An infographic showing how Lantern works

There may be several big tech bosses who prohibit their children having phones or using online platforms, but countless parents around the world do allow their kids to use these devices and services. To help protect children, several big tech companies, via the Tech Coalition, have announced Lantern, a child safety cross-platform signal sharing program.

Companies that are involved with Lantern at the time of writing are Discord, MEGA, Google, Meta, and Snap - these companies run a whole bunch of messaging services that predators use to target children including Discord, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more.

Up until now, predators have used several platforms so any one company can only see a fragment of harm being caused to a victim. With Lantern, companies will be able to work together and share signals about activity and accounts that violate their policies on child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The signals that these companies plan to use include email addresses, usernames, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) hashes, and keywords used to groom and buy or sell CSAM. To be clear, these signals are not definitive proof of child abuse, but will be used by participating companies in any further investigations that they carry out.

According to the Tech Coalition, there was no consistent procedure for companies to work together against predators but it is hoped that Lantern will now fill this gap to help stamp out online child sexual exploitation (at least on the involved platforms) to help make the internet safer for kids.

Explaining how the Lantern system will work, participating companies will upload their suspicious signals to Lantern and then other participating companies can select signals from Lantern and run them against signals on their own platform to see if users are showing predatory behavior across platforms.

Commenting on the new initiative, Antigone Davis, Global Head of Security at Meta, said:

“Predators don’t limit their attempts to harm children to individual platforms, and the technology industry needs to work together to stop predators and protect children on the many apps and websites they use. We’ve spent over a decade fighting to keep young people safe online, and we’re glad to partner with the Tech Coalition and our peers in the Lantern program on this important work.”

Aside from this announcement, we probably won’t see much in terms of how companies get on with the new Lantern scheme, but hopefully, it can make the participating platforms safer for kids and manages to expand to include other companies.

Source: Tech Coalition

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