Today marked a significant step forward in the UK’s fight against online harms, with the launch of the Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA). The first of its kind, we are bringing together innovative companies who operate in the field of online safety, who believe the UK is at the forefront of safety tech and the development of products and solutions that will make a significant contribution to online safety.
Initiated by Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics and PUBLIC, 14 separate tech companies have joined us, whose mission is to drive conversation and policy, and enact global change in the complex area of online safeguarding technology. Traditionally, debate in online safety has been between those who seek change, and those who fear it will be costly and difficult to implement. OSTIA will represent new voices – the companies that have built the technology that can deliver the much-needed transformation.
Chaired by Ian Stevenson, CEO and co-founder of Cyan Forensics – with members hailing from Cyan Forensics, Yoti, Crisp, Securium, SuperAwesome and SafeToNet amongst others – our working group aims to formally establish and drive forward the association’s key aims. By joining OSTIA, all members are committed to tackling the challenges and opportunities presented to make the internet a safer place.
We stand by three key aims that inform all that we do:
- Provide a voice of hope by informing policy makers, technology providers and the general public about online safety technologies
- Create collective influence on policy, regulation and broader support for the sector
- Provide a forum for companies contributing towards the goal of online safety
This launch comes at a crucial time, as just this month, the NCA predicted a rise in online child sexual abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. Also in April, Interpol issued a global threat assessment, demonstrating that recent weeks have seen increased online activity by paedophiles seeking child sexual abuse material.
We’re not alone as an organisation in this fight either; areas of the UK government such as DCMS have welcomed the launch and ongoing conversations with the likes of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and NSPCC will steer and support our work. Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“We are determined to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and have set out world-leading proposals to put a duty of care on online companies, enforced by an independent regulator. We are backing the industry to support our work by developing new products to improve online security and drive growth in the digital economy. This new association will help bring together relevant organisations to collaborate, innovate and create a safer online world.”
One of our first aims is to compile an Introductory Guide to Online Safety, a document drafted with specialist insight fromgovernment and civil society organisations. It will act as a guide for online platforms to proactively tackle online safety in the very design of their offerings. But that’s just a starting point; there is so much more that we have planned to make the internet a safer place for all.