Doing business the right way
In January, Interpol announced that they have identified 10,000 child victims of online sexual abuse in their International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) image database.
In the interviews that followed the publication of the data, Mick Moran, Head of Vulnerable Communities at Interpol, stressed that this number is only the tip of the iceberg and that it is important that the business community play their part and share in the responsibility of preventing child sexual abuse from being shared online.
As the new head of NetClean, my aim is to ensure that NetClean continues to work with business organisations, to provide them with the opportunity to operate a sustainable, ethical and forward thinking business.
Today most organisations are well equipped to deal with cyber security. Trying to fight off spam and detect malware is seen as a hygiene factor and a lot of resources are spent on establishing cybersecurity standards. However, precautional safety measures should not stop there. In addition to safeguarding networks and assets, companies should think proactively about how to ensure that they have policies in place that regulate downloading, viewing and sharing child sexual abuse material on their network and enable a safe and secure computing environment.
Companies typically have policies to deal with environmental and, if needed, child labour issues, however there is still not enough awareness about the key fact that businesses can, by adding codes of conduct to their responsibility agenda and by installing the right software that answers up to that code of conduct, develop, drive and collaborate on the fight against child sexual abuse, and at the same time live up to their brand values.
Why is this important? It is significant because child sexual abuse is a widespread problem that is happening across the world at every level of society. And, many of those who consume this sort of material are not going to be stopped by the fact that the device on which they are viewing it or the network to which they are downloading it does not belong to them.
The recent ‘NetClean Report 2016’ highlighted collected data that showed that one to two people in a thousand access child sexual abuse material from their work computer. The report also identified that the material is often viewed during normal working hours. The cost of installing software such as NetClean ProActive, that detects when known child sexual abuse material is handled on a work computer, is minimal in comparison with the cost of brand damage, legal costs, potential loss of business and negative press that might otherwise happen.
Having the right policies and software in place not only protects the business, it also signals an awareness and willingness to collaborate on fighting child sexual abuse. It is important to understand that every image discovered counts. Every image is a crime scene and every image is a potential child that can be rescued. When information is handed over agencies work hard to identify and rescue the children that appear in the material. In short, when the software does its job it helps identify and ultimately save a child.
Going back to the statement I made after the recent Copenhagen’s Sustainable Brands conference – responsible business practices must go beyond engaging with sustainable environmental issues. In the developed world most businesses have computers. Therefore Corporate Social Responsibility must include collaborative work and a willingness to fight online child sexual abuse. It is the responsibility of every business, whether it be public or private, to know that conducting business in the technology and information era comes with a duty to engage also with issues related to the dark side of internet.
As I said above, ensuring that this policy shift happens is my goal, and I look forward to leading the work on this and many other important issues at NetClean.