CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Sept. 8, 2004 — Children’s online safety is the focus of a community roundtable discussion for which Microsoft has gathered officials and community leaders in South Africa this week.
Microsoft South Africa’s Steve Morgan (L) accepts a plaque from INTERPOLS John Stamnes, honoring the companys contribution to children’s online safety and participation in law-enforcement training.
“First with attention to Aids in Africa and now to the safety of children on the Internet, these benign acts by Microsoft do not go unnoticed,” Kenny Kapinga, the head of Interpols sub-regional bureau in Harake, Botswana, said earlier this week. “We appreciate what Microsoft is doing not only in this region, but globally, especially your work on behalf of children.”
On Monday, Kapinga addressed 86 law-enforcement personnel from 12 African and European countries at the start of a four-day training session entitled Computer Facilitated Crimes Against Children. The training is conducted by Interpol, the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and Microsoft.
Steve Morgan, Microsofts South Africa Coastal Manager, pledged continued support to the police in investigations in the region. He highlighted the importance of collaboration between law enforcement and private business to improve childrens online safety.
At Thursday’s roundtable, Morgan and Kapinga will join members of South Africas Parliament, the mayor and deputy mayor of Cape Town, child safety advocates, other technology industry representatives and government dignitaries, and members of the media.
“Our practice is clear,” said Pam Portin, Microsofts Director of Childrens Online Safety. “Microsoft intends to continue this kind of relationship with our friends in law enforcement, government, and industry in cities around the world to make the Internet a safe place. We intend to encourage other private companies to build relationships with you that can help all of us in our efforts to help make the Internet safe for our children. And we will continue to make the innovations necessary to our own software to make it more secure.”
Sheila C. Johnson, a board member of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, is also traveling from the United States for the Roundtable.
“In order to combat global networks of child predators, we must all become a global network of child protectors,” she said. “As societies, as organizations, as families, and as individuals, we must band together to fight this evil.”
The organizer of the training, Ruben Rodriquez, said that the series of trainings, which have already included sessions in France, Costa Rica and Brazil, could not have taken place without Microsoft. He added that the roundtable with influential representatives from both government and the private sector is a natural extension of the work he does with law enforcement.
“Even though they are large, Microsoft is a corporation with a heart,” Rodriquez told the delegates. “They still remember that they want to do something in giving back to the community, especially with law enforcement.”
Moss Gondwe, Microsoft Public Sector from South Africa, will facilitate the roundtable. The session will be light on prepared presentations and heavy on discussion about what various entities in this part of the world are doing and what they hope to do with the partnerships that are fostered at this meeting with government agencies, leaders and private industry.
As part of the visit, Microsofts Chose Choeu (who represents the company’s Law and Corporate Affairs group in South Africa) and Redmond representatives Pam Portin, Microsoft Director of Childrens Online Safety, and Lou Gellos, Co-chair of the Microsoft Childrens Cybersafety Council, met with South Africas Committee on Science and Technology and South Africas Committee on Justice in the nations capital.
“There is a very real desire on the part of the South Africans we have met to utilize the expertise of Microsoft to assist in their goals of online safety for their children,” said Gellos. “Add this experience with the ones in Brazil, Costa Rica and France from a law-enforcement perspective, and advocates here recognize a global commitment by Microsoft to the safety of children while online.”
Microsofts next roundtable on children’s online safety takes place in Brussels in October in conjunction with the International Centres annual global board meeting. The next Microsoft-sponsored training for law enforcement convenes in Hong Kong in November.