Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Bill Minutes of Evidence


Microsoft and Child Safety

  Microsoft has a multi-tiered approach to the complex issue of child safety online—site regulation and advice; industry collaboration; and consumer technology. We have clear procedures in place to regulate chat rooms, one of which is having dedicated chat room moderators who will close down any site where content violates our Code of Conduct.

    —  We work closely with bodies across the industry, like the Home Office Task Force on Child Protection and we seek advice from organizations such as the NSPCC and ChildNet.

    —  We offer advice for children and parents online, and we have a UK site dedicated to just this— This has been localised and rolled out to over 20 international markets to date. We also have a general site about being safe online—

    —  We are constantly reviewing our products to improve and add new features in order to (i) prevent children coming into contact with undesirables, and certain sites (ii) reduce the amount of abuse and violations to our code of conduct.

    —  As a key industry member of the Home Office Task Force on Child Protection, consisting of government, industry, charities and the police, we recently supported the awareness campaign targetedat parents and children. The Task Force is reviewing various aspects of online communications to include chat and IM to name a couple. This collaboration led to the Task Force persuading the CRB to insert an exception so that chatroom moderators operating in the UK would have the ability to get police checks (will include spent and unspent convictions)

    —  We sit on the Funding Council of the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) the UK Hotline.

    —  We have an excellent relationship with local and national law enforcement and have undertaken an extensive training programme to educate key staff to assist police work and provide information. This has been an industry first and warmly welcomed by the police. We provide material which the police can use in evidence in court.

    —  We are also one of the founding Board members of ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) and have RASCi ratings within content advisor in IE.

    —  In the US, Microsoft introduced a technology solution, Kids Passport, that allows parents to choose which web sites they want to allow their children's personal information be collected and used. The product is currently being reviewed pending a rollout to European markets.

    —  We have recently donated a sizeable amount to ChildNet in order for the organization to continue with their valued work.

    —  We are developing extensive teaching modules on online safety to be used through the Encarta Class Server, and these will also be available on the online safety site to download. These will enable teachers teach "online safety" messages.

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Prepared 9 July 2002