Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In the spirit of National Internet Safety Month, we welcomed Ernie Allen, co-founder and president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to the Googleplex last week to discuss child protection issues.
For those not familiar with it, NCMEC works closely with federal law enforcement across the U.S. to help prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation and to help find missing children. From serving as the clearinghouse for reports of online child pornography to issuing Amber Alerts when children go missing to reuniting families in the wake of Katrina, NCMEC is at the forefront of efforts to protect society's most vulnerable members.
In a policy talk called "Beyond Milk Cartons: Keeping kids safe in a digital world", Ernie provided an overview of NCMEC's work and chatted with Googlers about the ever-changing landscape of child protection challenges shared by parents, educators, advocacy organizations, and technology companies like Google as we work to help families make smart choices online. Watch Ernie's talk on YouTube.
Technology is an invaluable tool for addressing some of these challenges. In a recent example, a team of Google engineers dedicated their 20 percent time over the last year and a half to build cutting-edge software for NCMEC that uses image and video recognition technology to help NCMEC analysts more effectively sort and review incoming reports of child exploitation. NCMEC analysts sort through tens of millions of images in child sexual abuse investigations, and we've tried to leverage our expertise in organizing huge amounts of data to help make their important work more automated and efficient.
When it comes to keeping kids safe on the Internet, we believe that education for families, support for law enforcement, and empowering technology tools, like our SafeSearch filter and the NCMEC software, are all critical pieces of the puzzle.
Tackling online child safety issues is no small task, but we'll continue our collaboration with organizations like NCMEC, along with other partners in schools, government and industry, to take collective strides in the right direction.