Home Secretary Launches Fund to Tackle Online Child Sexual Abuse

Innovative tech firms from across the world can apply for funding to develop technologies to help keep children safe when using encrypted online messaging services.

The Safety Tech Challenge Fund is a new UK government-funded programme supporting the development of innovative technologies to help keep children safe in online environments.

Innovators and tech experts will be given funding to demonstrate to world’s biggest internet technology firms how they can better design their products and not increase the risk of their platforms being a safe haven for child sexual abusers.

The Fund will award five organisations up to £85,000 each to develop a prototype or proof-of-concept to protect children when using end-to-end encrypted messaging services.

Technology firms from across the world that are innovating to make their platforms safer may be eligible. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consider collaborative bids, which combine existing specialist expertise from different organisations. These collaborations could, for example, involve:

  • Different safety tech companies.
  • Safety tech companies and demand-side partners (eg gaming companies or platforms).
  • Academic partners or others with insights into the nature of harms.
  • Companies in parallel sectors (eg cyber security).
  • Any combination of the above.

Launching the Fund, Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

‘The technology giants have a responsibility to protect their users online, and must take our children’s safety and security as seriously as they do their bottom line when designing new products.

‘This new fund will bring together global experts to show the technology companies how they can responsibly implement end-to-end encryption without putting our children’s safety at greater risk.’

The deadline for applications to be submitted is 6 October 2021 (12:00 BST).

(This report was the subject of a GRANTfinder Newsflash.)