Australia Report finds Apple and Microsoft Failing To Address Child Abuse

Australia's eSafety Commissioner has accused tech giants Apple and Microsoft of failing to adequately address the s*xual exploitation of children on their platforms.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Australia Report finds Apple and Microsoft Failing To Address Child Abuse

Australia's eSafety Commissioner has accused tech giants Apple and Microsoft of failing to adequately address the s*xual exploitation of children on their platforms. In a report released on Thursday, the Commissioner said that the companies do not proactively search for child exploitation material on their services, despite the existence of software that can scan for known images and videos of abuse.

The Commissioner's office had issued legal notices to Apple, Meta, WhatsApp, Microsoft, Skype, Snap, and Omegle requesting information about their policies for preventing child exploitation on their platforms. Commenting on the report, Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said: "This report shows us that some companies are making an effort to tackle the scourge of online child s*xual exploitation material, while others are doing very little." She added: "But we're talking about illegal content that depicts the s*xual abuse of children – and it is unacceptable that tech giants with long-term knowledge of extensive childs*xual exploitation, access to existing technical tools and significant resources are not doing everything they can to stamp this out on their platforms." In response to the report, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the company recognizes that child s*xual abuse is a "horrific crime" and has a "long-standing commitment" to combatting the spread of child exploitation material.

The spokesperson added: "Microsoft is a founding member of the Tech Coalition, and helped develop and make freely available PhotoDNA, which continues to be a leading technological tool for detecting child s*xual exploitation and abuse online."

Apple has yet to comment on the report.

The issue of child exploitation on social media platforms has been a significant concern in recent years, with calls for greater action to be taken by tech companies to address the issue.

In 2019, the UK government introduced the Online Harms Bill, which would require companies to take greater steps to protectusers from harmful content, including child exploitation material. The proposed legislation has faced criticism for not going far enough in holding companies accountable for the content on their platforms, and for potentially undermining freedom of expression.

In the US, the Department of Justice has launched a number of initiatives to combat child exploitation online, including the establishment of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which brings together local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute online child exploitation crimes.

Despite these efforts, however, the issue remains a significant concern, with children at risk of being exploited and abused through social media platforms and other online channels.

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