Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

The United States and the European Union recently signed a Joint Declaration committing to make the Internet a safer place for children. Signed in London last month, the accord pledges the two governments will “work collectively and in partnership to reduce the risks and maximize the (Internet’s) benefits” for young people.

Originally set to be inked at a day-long summit in Washington, D.C. that was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy having battered the Eastern United States, the Declaration notes the U.S. and EU’s “shared vision” of the opportunities presented and the steps to be taken to best protect children online. European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed the agreement, specifically committing to: conduct joint awareness-raising and educational efforts; grow parental and caregiver trust in online services and the content that children access, and continue the broad global effort to fight online child sexual abuse. 

In addition, the two acknowledged the importance of public-private partnerships; working collaboratively among the technology industry, law enforcement, parents, educators, and others; and participating in campaigns such as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in the U.S. and its flagship STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ campaign, as well as the recently piloted Cyber Security Month in the EU, and its near-decade-long Safer Internet Day (SID) commemoration.

“Through such work,” the Joint Declaration reads, “we hope to reduce risk for our societies and improve our ability to mitigate harm and prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes such as child exploitation.”  (Since the signing of the Joint Declaration, the 27 EU Member States, the United States and others launched the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.) 

In her blog post following the Joint Declaration announcement, Vice President Kroes wrote that the time is ripe for people to see technology companies as part of a solution to child online safety versus being “part of the problem.”

“There’s a huge benefit to Internet companies in doing that – not just for their reputations, but to unlock a huge, beneficial market in quality content, for education or fun,” Kroes stated. 

Microsoft has been working to help protect children and families online since the Internet first came into being. From our industry-leading Family Safety Settings in Windows 8 and PhotoDNA to the vast array of informational and educational tools and materials that we provide, the company’s commitment to protecting children online shines through in all that we do. These efforts include our own annual participation in NCSAM and SID. That said, no one company or entity can take on such a monumental task alone. Indeed, we, as a single technology company, can look to do more, and we can increase our efforts with others in industry, government, law enforcement, as well as our non-profit partners. 

We look forward to being a part of the results the Joint Declaration will produce, and we applaud the overall U.S. and EU efforts in striving to create a safer, more trusted Internet for all. For more on Microsoft’s work in online safety, please visit our Safety & Security Center, and consider following us on Facebook and Twitter. Click here for a video message from General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs Brad Smith.