Safe Online Progress Snapshot 2023

A year of progress, challenges and key milestones for Safe Online

2023 was a year of big strides on the digital landscape characterised by the rapid evolution of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and immersive platforms. However, these technological innovations are also bringing forth new and evolving challenges, impacting some of our most vulnerable, particularly children and young people.  

The challenges to children’s online safety have never been more significant, and demand an unprecedented response. Our work, now more critical than ever, has risen to meet these challenges. From strategic investments to critical research and advocacy, Safe Online has been at the frontline of the battle to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 

This year also marks the beginning of Safe Online’s independent journey and our transition from the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. Our new role as a global funding vehicle enables us to renew our commitment to our core purpose; to protect and empower children and young people throughout the digital world.

Celebrating our investments and innovations!

This year we launched a US $10 million global open call to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse and awarded an additional US $5.5 million to generate crucial data and evidence building on learnings generated in previous rounds, from tech solutions to systems strengthening and policy development.​

We welcomed 10 new trailblazing grantees into the Tech Solutions fold with innovative projects and awarded 4 new projects as part of our Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund to advance the journey from research labs to the frontlines of tech. 

Since 2016, Safe Online has been at the forefront of this global battle against online CSEA, investing over US $77 million in over 100 projects across 85+ countries. Through our investments, Safe Online is rewriting the future of online safety. 

Disrupting Harm's Global Leap: Flagship research project on online CSEA expands to 11 new countries!

This year, 11 new countries: Armenia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Serbia and Tunisia announced the implementation of Disrupting Harm in their respective countries. This second round of investment by Safe Online (totalling USD $7.5m) will expand Disrupting Harm to 4 more regions and enable robust research on online child sexual exploitation and abuse, conducted by Disrupting Harm partners ECPAT International, INTERPOL and UNICEF Innocenti with support from national expert organisations. By 2025, each participating country will be armed with evidence-informed action plans, tailored to fortify their defences against online child exploitation.

Key Moments and Strategic Opportunities

In 2023, Safe Online leveraged over 60 strategic opportunities including high-level events, convenings and meetings to elevate the profile of child online safety, placing it at the forefront of political and sectoral discussions and ensuring it remains a priority across various levels and sectors.

Highlights include: 

Fostering collaboration to tackle online CSEA: In September, Tech Coalition and Safe Online organised a research fund convening in San Francisco, California bringing together 11 grantees and 25 representatives from the tech industry, creating a platform for sharing knowledge and fostering technical collaboration. The convening took place on the margins of the Stanford Trust & Safety Research Conference on 28-29 September 2023 where Safe Online organised a session with research grantees, sharing the lessons learned from the Research Fund and promoting the insights from research and data on online CSEA.

Safe Digital Futures for Children: Aligning Global Agendas Safe Online’s session, attended by key government partners from Australia, France, Ghana, and the United States of America, international organisations and technical experts, at the Internet Governance Forum in Kyoto, Japan sparked crucial conversations on  fragmentation in the digital landscape and emphasised the necessity for evidence-based research and data to bridge gaps across various global digital agendas, including cybersecurity, child online safety, and tech-facilitated gender-based violence. 

In partnership with the French Children Online Protection Lab and the WeProtect Global Alliance, Safe Online organised the Safe Digital Futures for Children: Data for Change event in November in Paris, France, in which over 50 technical experts participated. The event strengthened the conversation on the availability and quality of data related to online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) and brought together a community of experts to build on the existing work towards a more reliable, comparable, and comprehensive data ecosystem on online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA).

Safe Online participated in the Paris Peace Forum in a session led by Ambassador Henri Verdier, Ambassador for Digital Affairs, France and attended by Jean-Noël Barrot, Minister for Digital Transitions and Telecommunications, France and other experts. Safe Online Executive Director, Marija Manojlovic advocated for fortified child-centric digital prevention and response mechanisms to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 

A Milestone Moment at the G7 Meet in Mito, Japan: Safe Online’s Call to Action

As the year drew to a close, Safe Online stepped onto the global stage again at the prestigious G7 Security and Interior Ministers’ Meet in Mito, Japan. Safe Online’s lead, Marija Manojlovic, urged the G7 nations to unite in their efforts against online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) by boosting international funding, harmonising legislations and standards and advancing safety technology.

Innovative Partnerships -Forging an Alliance for a Safer Digital Future

Safe Online this year formalised a groundbreaking partnership with the French Children Online Protection Lab. This collaboration will unite the expertise, resources and passions of both organisations to forge a more secure online world for children globally. 

As part of the partnership, Safe Online and the Children Online Protection Lab will align our governance structures and support an exciting series of pilot projects where Safe Online will leverage its existing infrastructure to support and enhance the Lab’s experimentations.

Safe Online joins the Lanzarote Committee: 

This year marks another significant milestone for Safe Online, as we proudly joined the esteemed Lanzarote Committee as an Observer. This collaboration opened a new chapter in our relentless pursuit to combat the growing threat of online CSEA and we remain strongly committed to continue working with key stakeholders to transform the capacity of national, regional and global systems to combat the escalating threat of online CSEA and the opportunity of closely collaborating with the Lanzarote Committee.  

New Safe Online Brand!

And finally, this year, Safe Online launched our new brand, a significant milestone in our ongoing mission to create a safer digital world for children and young people.

We invite you to view our brand video and learn more about our renewed commitment: Safe Online’s Brand Video

Images: © Safe Online, UNICEF

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Our purpose in detail

We are here to ensure every child and young person grows in to the digital world feeling safe, and is protected from harm.

We support, champion, and invest in innovative partners from the public, private, and third sectors working towards the same objective.

We believe in equipping guardians and young people with the skills to understand and see danger themselves once accessing digital experiences without supervision.

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