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About the Online Safety Data Initiative

The internet can be a powerful force for good, but illegal and harmful content and activity is widespread online. 62% of adult internet users and over 80% of children (aged 12-15) have had potentially harmful experiences online. The prevalence of the most serious illegal content and activity - which threatens our national security or the physical safety of children - is unacceptable.

In 2020, nearly 22 million reports of child sexual exploitation were made to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, including over 65 million images, videos and other files. Online platforms can be a tool for abuse and bullying, and the impact of harmful content and activity is particularly damaging for children.

The Online Safety Data Initiative (OSDI) is a 15-month project designed to test methodologies to facilitate better access to higher quality data to support the development of technology to identify and remove harmful and illegal content from the internet. The initiative aims to design and prototype new approaches which ensure trusted parties can securely and ethically access the online harms data they need to develop new safety tech solutions.

This work is being led by a consortium of experts from government, the Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA), Faculty Science, and PUBLIC.

The OSDI is one of the first pilot projects funded through the Shared Outcomes Fund - a £200 million HM Treasury programme announced at the Spending Round 2019. These pilot projects are intended to test innovative ways of working across the public sector, with an emphasis on thorough plans for evaluation that can inform future policy development and programmes.

You can read more about the safety tech industry on the Safety Tech Innovation Network and you can learn more about the Government’s proposals to tackle online harms in the full government response to its consultation results.

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