MTN partners with Internet Watch Foundation to make the internet a safer place

Published:  Thu 31 Oct 2019

In its continued effort to fight against the exploitation of children on the internet, MTN Group today announced the launch of its Child Online Protection initiative by signing a partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). MTN is the first Africa wide Telecommunications Company to partner with the IWF. 

MTN believes that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, and that all users of their products and services have the right to freely and safely enjoy the digital solutions they offer. Their child online protection programme is in line with the MTN “We’re good together” initiative that was launched in October aimed at demonstrating how, through partnerships they can help to accelerate digital inclusion for the good of society. 

MTN has a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of abuse and exploitation, including that of children. They are guided in their efforts by the work of global organisations and law enforcement authorities dedicated to managing this complex matter. They are a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact as well as the GSMA Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse. Their partnership with the IWF builds on their commitment to ensure the safety of children online. 

“As MTN is expanding the digital sphere, both on the continent and globally, it is important to us that we ensure that all who are touched by our products and services are impacted positively, including children. The free, open nature of information and communication technologies, while benefitting society, unfortunately also creates opportunities for people to develop online relationships with vulnerable children, join communities that harm children, and share sexually-abusive material on children,” said Rob Shuter, MTN Group CEO and President.

He added, “Online safety is a key concern for our business, it is for this reason that we have partnered with IWF to create an online community that its safe and from which all users, of all ages, can benefit. Through the partnership, we hope to play our part in the fight against the exploitation of children on the internet and educating children and young people about safe and responsible usage of ICT.” 

“We are making every possible effort to contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to to end all forms of violence against children. We believe that together, we can realise the right of every child to live free from fear, neglect, abuse and exploitation,” he concluded. 

Children hands

The membership agreement will offer support services from IWF to MTN. These include alerts to MTN Group if a domain under MTN’s control is found to host child sexual abuse content. Such domains will be blocked automatically. 

Using IWF’s confidential reporting portal, MTN encourages its customers and members of the public to safely and anonymously report online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). IWF will investigate all reports and work with country partner hotlines or international law enforcement agencies to ensure that confirmed cases of child sexual abuse content on the internet are removed at source. 

We also use our best endeavours to ensure that MTN’s third party content providers do not make CSAM available to our customers. Providers that offer such content will be considered in breach of their contract, and their contracts will be terminated.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: “We’re delighted that MTN has chosen to demonstrate their commitment to a safer internet for everyone by becoming a member of the Internet Watch Foundation. It’s only thanks to partnerships like these that we’re able to drive forward our mission to eliminate photos and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet. As the largest mobile operator in Africa, MTN’s alliance with the IWF will significantly impact the spread of criminal imagery across the continent and further afield.”

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