Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400-419)


29 APRIL 2008

  Q400  Helen Southworth: Therefore, there is no possibility of your making any audit of whether or not you are providing child protection across all those areas; it is just a cultural feel?

  Mr Angus: Do not let me mis-speak. It is not just a cultural feel; there are dedicated resources as well, but I do not want to misrepresent it by suggesting that it stops at this place.

  Q401  Helen Southworth: But would you be able to let us have details of the dedicated resources?

  Mr Angus: Yes, but I do not think it is possible to break it down by country. [3]

  Q402 Helen Southworth: Provided we can have the headline figures, that is fine. Within that would it be possible for you to let us know the allocations to education or child protection measures specifically focused on the UK?

  Mr Angus: As Dr O'Connell said, most of what we are doing is concerned with the European Commission and Teach Today. We have devoted a lot of resources to the broad education of teachers throughout Europe.

  Q403  Helen Southworth: Presumably, within that there is some kind of check to see in which nations you are operating?

  Mr Angus: Correct.

  Q404  Helen Southworth: Presumably, you have some methodology to identify that it does not all go to one particular European nation but is spread across all your customer base; otherwise, you will not be able to determine whether or not it achieves anything. You must have some method of auditing?

  Mr Angus: I still do not know that it is auditable. We may be able to approximate based on user numbers.

  Q405  Helen Southworth: You can give us averages but not anything that is actually tackling the issue within the UK?

  Mr Angus: Not that I am aware of. We are working with CEOP and obviously the Home Office and this group.

  Q406  Helen Southworth: Perhaps I may ask Bebo the same questions. What is your budget for child protection across your global operations? Are there any specific measures applied to the UK?

  Dr O'Connell: Perhaps I may unpick that a little. When I was hired by Bebo, which is three years old, it was clear that the whole ethos was to develop a safe site and to do what needed to be done to make it as safe as possible. My role in the company is to work at a number of levels, for example with the engineering team so that when it develops new products it thinks about the potential risks. We go through a full risk analysis in terms of what the risks are or might be and how we can mitigate them, how somebody might misuse it, how we can get them to use it more positively. That takes a huge amount of time. When you talk about budget, are you asking whether we allocate x amount of money or whether it is time and allocation in terms of the different kinds of activities involved in talking to engineers and getting them to think about product development?

  Q407  Helen Southworth: That is for you to determine. I want to know how your company measures the resources that it applies to this activity.

  Dr O'Connell: It is so integral to our company. We spend money on image filtering technologies, on our abuse management team and our staff who are dedicated to safety-related issues. Over a third of our staff are completely focused on safety. I want to be as helpful as possible. If those are the sorts of figures and one is trying to add them up——

  Q408  Helen Southworth: Whatever methodology you use, what I would like to know is what percentage of your activity is allocated to this?

  Dr O'Connell: We can come back to you with a breakdown of those figures. [4]

  Q409 Helen Southworth: It would also be very useful if you could let us know which of those things are directly allocated to the UK in terms of education. If you do masses of education that is great, but it is not really great for us if it all goes to another nation. We want to know what benefit your customer base in the UK receives from those things. That would be really helpful. I take you back to the specific question of child protection in the UK. How many reports does MySpace send to CEOP, and are they all sent via the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US? What is the allocation?

  Mr Angus: Everything goes directly to the national centre's cyber tip line as mandated by law. They further disseminate those reports to the appropriate law enforcement agencies internationally. [5]

  Q410 Helen Southworth: So, they all go via the US centre?

  Mr Angus: When they come to us we are required to report to them. We also enable users to report directly to CEOP.

  Q411  Helen Southworth: In terms of the process of going via the centre in the US, what time elapses between a report being made by a young person or parent of suspected abuse and it reaching our law enforcement service for action?

  Mr Angus: We do not get information on that from the national centre.

  Q412  Helen Southworth: You do not ask for it?

  Mr Angus: We do not get it; we are not able to obtain it.

  Q413  Helen Southworth: So, you have no idea at all how long it could take a report of suspected serious abuse to reach our law enforcement agency from a report to you?

  Mr Angus: I am not certain about a report from the cyber tip line to the national centre and CEOP. I know that they have a very close relationship.

  Q414  Helen Southworth: But we have no idea whether it is hours, days or weeks?

  Mr Angus: I do not. I am certain that the national centre and CEOP would know.

  Q415  Helen Southworth: I want to ask about direct reporting to CEOP. How many clicks does it take for a child to get to CEOP from your system?

  Mr Angus: We have a safety page which has the safety resources. There is a direct link to CEOP on that page.

  Q416  Helen Southworth: How many clicks does it take? How many interrogations does a child have to make of your system to be able to report abuse?

  Mr Angus: They go straight away to the safety page. Then there is the link to the resources and that will take them straight away to CEOP.

  Q417  Helen Southworth: How many interrogations is that?

  Mr Angus: It is not really an interrogation. Our educational system—-

  Q418  Helen Southworth: For a child it is; it has to go through a number of different menus.

  Mr Angus: It goes to the safety page which is how we teach them to report these matters. It then clicks the other resources, if the child does not choose to report directly to us. If you are on the safety page it is one click to go to the resource and one to take you to CEOP.

  Q419  Helen Southworth: So, there are only two?

  Mr Angus: Yes.

3   Supplied in confidence Back

4   Supplied in confidence Back

5   Ibid Back

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