In the past few hours we have told you about an Agcom initiative that will be operational in our country starting from Tuesday 21 November. This is a parental control that telephone operators will have to activate directly on all SIM cards registered to minors, thus protecting young and very young people from certain categories of adult sites.
It is basically the same problem that is faced by some tech giants, who have created the Lantern project, for the protection of minors online.
The Lantern project is closely linked to Tech Coalitionon whose official website the news of the initiative appeared on Tuesday 7 November.
What is it about?
Tech Coalition and the Lantern project
Tech Coalition is “an alliance of global technology companies working together to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Practically all the tech giants are part of it, from Meta to Google, from X to Amazon, from TikTok to Discord.
And on Tuesday 7 November the news of the Lantern project appeared on the official Tech Coalition website, a tool that will help companies strengthen their child safety policies.
Against online solicitation and financial sextortion
The war on online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OECDEA) aims to stem mainly two threats. That is, online solicitation and the so-called financial sextortion (composed of sex and extortion) of young people, which requires the payment of a sum under threat of sharing intimate images of the victim with other people.
How Lantern works
The Lantern project was born from the assumption that each single platform alone can do a relative job against the OCSEA.
Lantern will be a shared database, in which the company involved will be able to report any sign of a violation of conduct. The note specifies that “signals are not definitive proof of abuse: they offer clues for further investigation and can be the crucial piece of the puzzle that allows a company to uncover a real-time threat to a child’s safety.”
In short, the Lantern project can make the detection of threats more effective and rapid, as well as the reporting of criminal crimes to the authorities.because it “sheds light on cross-platform attempts at online child sexual exploitation and abuse, helping to make the Internet safer for children.”
In concrete terms, for example, if a platform activates a signal relating to a suspicious account on Lantern, the other participating platforms can in turn activate the same signal on their virtual spaces and act accordingly, removing the account and if necessary reporting it.
The testing phase
To take a concrete example, in the testing phase of the Lantern project Meta used the information that another partner of the initiative, Mega, had shared.
In this way, the Menlo Park company was able to remove “over 10,000 profiles, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts” that violated the rules on child safety, and report them to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The first participating companies
The first big tech companies that will participate in the Lantern project are, in addition to the aforementioned Meta and Mega, Discord, Google, Quora, Roblox, Snap and Twitch.
For two years the companies tested the program, ensuring that it passed the “suitability check”, was compliant with legal and regulatory requirements but also “ethically acceptable”.
Security, privacy and human rights
On the one hand, the Tech Coalition’s commitment to protecting minors online is certainly meritorious.
Just think of the very recent news from Artur Béjar, a former Meta employee who will testify to the United States Congress on Tuesday 14 November because his daughter “shortly after joining Instagram, began receiving unwanted sexual advances, misogynistic posts and harassment at 14 years old. ”
On the other hand there are the sensitive issues of privacy and human rights. The Tech Coalition note states that a human rights impact assessment has been commissioned from Business for Social Responsibility, which will provide ongoing advice. Furthermore, the Lantern project will have clear and unambiguous guidelines for data sharing, with mandatory training and routine checks for the companies involved, and periodic review of policies.