250 Law enforcement representatives and experts from more than 60 countries joined the stakeholder meeting of the “AI for safer children initiative”
Over the course of two parallel sessions on 15 and 17 June, approximately 250 representatives of the law enforcement community from all continents across the world came together to participate virtually in the first Stakeholder Meeting of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Safer Children initiative.
A joint undertaking of UNICRI, through its Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates, the AI for Safer Children initiative was launched in November 2020 with the goal of exploring the positive potential of AI to support law enforcement and related authorities in countering a wide range of forms of violence, exploitation and abuse against children online. One of the main outcomes of the initiative will be the development of a web-based platform, with the working title of AI for Safer Children Global Hub, designed to support law enforcement to tap into the potential of AI to combat online child sexual exploitation by providing them with tailored information on a range of existing AI tools and promoting communication, networking and sharing of experiences among them. The Global Hub will be designed and implemented in a pilot phase over the course of two years. In subsequent years, the platform will aim to serve law enforcement agencies from all UN Member States through the development of new features and functions tailored to the needs of the end-users.
The purpose of the first Stakeholder Meeting, which was chaired by Lt. Col. Dana Humaid of the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates and UNICRI’s Head of AI Centre, Mr. Irakli Beridze, was to engage potential end-users of the platform and collect their feedback to ensure its added value. During the opening of the meeting, Lt. Col. Humaid remarked that “reports of child sexual abuse imagery has exploded over the last two decades and the number is expected to continue rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By forcing children to stay at home, sometimes in abusive environments, the pandemic enhanced their vulnerability, with 68% of law enforcement agencies worldwide reporting an increase in child sexual abuse.” Mr. Beridze explained that “the AI for Safer Children initiative aims to help law enforcement agencies in the fight against this crime and is being developed with full consideration of key principles, such as global inclusiveness, gender mainstreaming, respect for human rights and promotion of responsible use of data and AI.”
Representatives from INTERPOL and law enforcement from various countries provided their insights on both the problem of the increasing volume of online child sexual abuse material and the opportunities offered by AI to help combating crimes committed against children online. After these presentations, the participants engaged in interactive discussions in small groups organized in online breakout rooms.
The participants found that the initiative is valuable and an effective way to help law enforcement. They also showed their support for the Global Hub, which will start being developed, under the auspices of UNICRI, in the coming months.