Safety Tech Challenge: link sharing of Child Sexual Abuse Material
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £700,000 for projects that help protect children by identifying and disrupting the sharing of links to child sexual abuse material online.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Home Office and GCHQ to invest up to £700,000 in innovation projects that enhance UK capabilities in protecting children online. This funding is from the UK Safety Tech (UKST) challenge fund.
The aim of this competition is to enhance UK capabilities in protecting all users online, but in particular preventing harm of children online. Your proposal must help in identifying and disrupting the sharing of child sexual abuse links to further develop a ‘safety by design’ culture in advance of upcoming regulatory changes.
The effectiveness of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking access to illegal sites is deteriorating due to increased encryption of web traffic. The fund will focus on:
- content moderation of the sharing of links to child sexual abuse material (CSAM)
- detecting and disrupting the modification of links to CSAM
- locations facilitating CSAM access, including gateway and torrent sites
The term ‘links’ encompasses original URLs and shortened or modified URLs.
To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO).
All projects must develop new approaches, adapt existing technologies or scale up tools to identify and take further action on CSAM links.
Your project must:
- have a grant funding request between £70,000 and £120,000
- start by 1 June 2023
- end by 29 February 2024
- last between 6 months and 9 months
- carry out its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
- demonstrate transparency, data protection and protect user privacy
We encourage projects from diverse sectors including communications, advertising and finance.
Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3 year rolling financial period.
The aim of this competition is to enhance UK capabilities in protecting all users online, but in particular preventing harm of children online. The competition seeks to further develop a ‘safety by design’ culture in the UK in advance of upcoming regulatory changes.
Your project must develop new approaches, adapt existing technologies or scale up tools to prevent and block sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) links on the clear web. We particularly encourage projects that seek to scale solutions or address barriers to scaling up solutions.
We also encourage applicants working in wider innovation areas and diverse sectors to apply, as well as multidisciplinary teams and approaches.
Your project must also be able to demonstrate transparency, data protection and protect user privacy.
We expect you to include user-centred design approaches to help achieve solutions that are impactful and are usable.
Your project must focus on one or more of the following:
- identifying CSAM links shared in public spaces, particularly on social media, forums and gaming platforms
- identifying CSAM links in private spaces, including those within an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) environment, particularly text-based chat or messaging platforms for 1 to 1 or group communications
- detecting and disrupting CSAM link shortening or modification
- onwards reporting and action to block access to CSAM links
We will not fund projects which :
- focus on direct sharing of child sexual abuse content or media
- focus on sharing of offender tech advice or tradecraft
- focus on sharing of links to child accounts
- focus on dark web child sexual abuse activity
- focus on hosting of child sexual abuse content
If you want help to find a project partner, contact Ryan Jackson, Innovate UK KTN’s Safety Tech lead.