Brighthood conference 2020: Verizon

Brighthood conference 2020: Verizon
12 November, 2020 Anna Borgström
In Business, Child protection

Brighthood conference 2020:
Verizon

I talk about this more than anything else – the importance of the private sector, businesses and organisations, when it comes to fighting online child sexual abuse crime.

Why do we focus on businesses?

Because most people who sexually abuse children and consume child sexual abuse material are adults, and most adults are employed. Most businesses need to protect the IT systems that facilitate the work of their employees, and many businesses have a desire to be a force for good and help their communities function well.

If the above is not enough to foster this engagement, data from our NetClean Report 2018 shows that 1 in 500 workplace computers are known to contain online child sexual abuse material. The severity of this crime and implications for victims and communities, falls within sustainable planning and ethical thinking that all businesses should engage with.

We invite businesses and people that we recognise as leading lights in this area to speak at our conferences. This year we heard from a number of trailblazers, who all have incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their core strategies and sustainability planning.

Digital inclusion

Hans Vestberg is the Chairman and CEO of Verizon, one of the world’s largest companies, and we were very privileged to have him speak at Brighthood this year. Under his leadership Verizon is revolutionising how the business relates to all their stakeholders – by putting them all on an equal footing.

All departments in Verizon must work towards the good of shareholders, customers, employees, and society with an understanding that everything is connected. What is good for one is good for the other. To focus the work, Verizon has identified three pillars: Digital Inclusion, Climate Protection and Human Prosperity, around which to build their sustainability strategy.

Much of the success of this initiative rests on the fact that this CSR strategy is incorporated into the core work, and not run as a philanthropical side-project, which can often be the case.

Technology is the key to addressing inequalities

Vestberg, who was heavily involved with shaping the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, advocates that technology is one of the main areas that will shape the future, and that in this development we must ensure that everyone is included in this revolution.

Everyone should have access to the benefits that connectivity delivers, e.g. education, health care, news etc. He pointed out that this is especially important in the Covid era, where the internet has been the main provider of information and support.

“Large companies are often better placed to drive positive change than governments. They are well resourced and able to implement change quickly. This is key when it comes to fighting a crime like online child sexual abuse. “

Like many responsible and vocal leaders in the IT industry he also recognises that there are negative sides to connectivity, and that the industry must work hard to ensure that it addresses safety online.

This can be done by general strategic thinking and investment in communities. Large companies are often better placed to drive positive change than governments. They are well resourced and able to implement change quickly. This is key when it comes to fighting a crime like online child sexual abuse. Companies must use this power when building business strategies, products and when collaborating with solution providers like NetClean, big institutions like the UN and civil society organisations like NCMEC.

Vestberg pointed out that the work to drive engagement with communities should start from the position of asking yourself what you can do to help. If business leaders think like this and take a look at the resources and opportunities that they have, then they can and should find a way to engage.

Many businesses are guided by the UN’s Development Goals, which all address some point of digitalisation. It is up to tech companies to support and drive this development, and it is up to all businesses to protect their IT infrastructure and to ensure that they operate in an ethical way that helps safeguard their future workforce.

Some of this work can be done by using already existing tools. Goal 16.2, can partly be achieved  by detecting child sexual abuse material with help of technologies in company networks and internal IT-environments.