Yoti has teamed up with the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to help stop the spread of sexually explicit images of minors. To that end, Yoti will be providing age verification technology that will allow people under the age of 18 to report nude images of themselves to the NSPCC’s Childline program anonymously.
The Childline is a self-report program run in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Once a report is filed, the IWF will take steps to scrub the offending images from the internet if the report is found to be credible, or if the photo contains illegal content.
The problem is that the IWF cannot take action if the person in the image is not underage. That means that the person reporting a photo needs to submit proof of age along with the report, which has historically taken the form of a passport or ID scan. Unfortunately, that requirement has had the effect of discouraging reports, since people are afraid that the act of filing could create a more permanent (and potentially more public) association with the illicit photo.
Yoti, on the other hand, gives people a way to prove their age without disclosing any other personal information. Those who have registered for a digital Yoti ID can verify their age with a tap or QR code scan through the mobile app. Those who have not created an account can go through a one-time verification process that asks them to scan an ID and take a selfie. Yoti’s platform will then compare the selfie to the ID to confirm that the person is younger than 18, but will not pass on personal details like the reporter’s name.
Childline will respond to all reports within one working day. The IWF, meanwhile, will now be hashing the images that get submitted to make it easier for tech platforms to block the spread of those images in the future. The organization has only accepted URLs in the past, and is hoping that the new hashing method will more effectively address the rising volume of nude images. In that regard, the IWF noted that 38,000 self-generated images were reported in the first three months of 2021, more than double the 17,500 figure for the same period in 2020.
“The impact of having a nude image shared on the internet cannot be underestimated and for many young people, it can leave them feeling extremely worried and unsure on what to do or who to turn to for support,” said Childline Online Service Head Cormac Nolan. “Childline and the IWF developed Report Remove to provide young people a simple, safe tool that they can use to try and help them regain control over what is happening and get this content erased.”
Yoti has previously enabled age verification for Yubo’s youth-oriented social media app. It also provided age estimation services for the Point de Contact association, another organization that is trying to stop child abuse and prevent the spread of sexually explicit images of children. The company is currently trying to improve its age estimation accuracy for those younger than 13.