10 March 2015

New VGT partner Kik Takes Steps to Combat Exploitation of Minors

Kik Interactive has taken two important steps towards preventing exploitation of minors in its chat app, Kik. The Waterloo-based company has become the first Canadian company to adopt Microsoft PhotoDNA Cloud Service, an industry-leading technology used to detect exploitative images, and has joined the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), a global anti-child abuse organization. These moves emphasize Kik’s commitment to trust and safety, and are part of a wider ongoing effort to eradicate online behavior that is harmful to minors.

“At Kik, we want to create a safe and fun environment where users can engage with friends, no matter where they meet,” said Ted Livingston, founder and CEO of Kik. “The safety of our users is Kik’s number-one priority, and today’s announcements underline our commitment to their safety and well-being.”

Kik has become the first Canadian company, and one of a short list of major technology companies and services including Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, to implement PhotoDNA software that helps find and remove exploitative images from the Internet. Kik will use PhotoDNA to moderate profile pictures shared within the app. All accounts with images in violation of Kik’s trust and safety guidelines will be terminated immediately, and will be reported to law enforcement.

In addition, the company has also become the newest private sector partner with VGT, an international alliance of law enforcement and private sector agencies dedicated to combating online child sexual abuse. Kik will have access to a consortium of international law enforcement agencies, non-government organizations, and private companies that share the goal of protecting children from online abuse and other forms of exploitation. VGT currently has 13 law enforcement member agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, INTERPOL, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and 14 other private sector partners, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, PayPal, and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.

“VGT recognizes that the fight against online child exploitation cannot be undertaken by law enforcement alone,” said Ian Quinn, VGT chair and deputy assistant director of investigative services with Homeland Security Investigations. “Private sector partners like Kik play a critical role by putting their expertise and resources toward our mutual goal of eliminating transnational child exploitation.”

To learn more about Kik’s trust and safety initiatives, please visit: http://www.kik.com/lawenforcement/

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