MTN Group has confirmed its partnership with NGO the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the launch of a child online protection initiative.

The operator claims to be the first Africa-wide telecommunications firm to partner with the IWF and the initiative is in line with its ‘we’re good together’ campaign launched in October. The aim of this campaign is to show how partnerships can help accelerate digital inclusion for the good of society.

According to a statement issued by MTN, the membership agreement will offer support services from IWF to MTN. These include alerts to MTN Group if a domain under MTN’s control is found to host child sexual abuse content. Such domains will be blocked automatically.

Using IWF’s confidential reporting portal, MTN encourages its customers and members of the public to safely and anonymously report online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

IWF will investigate all reports and work with country partner hotlines or international law enforcement agencies to ensure that confirmed cases of child sexual abuse content on the internet are removed at source, the partners explain.

Rob Shuter, MTN Group chief executive officer and President said, “The free, open nature of information and communication technologies, while benefitting society, unfortunately also creates opportunities for people to develop online relationships with vulnerable children, join communities that harm children, and share sexually-abusive material on children. As MTN is expanding the digital sphere, both on the continent and globally, it is important to us that we ensure that all who are touched by our products and services are impacted positively, including children.”

He added, “Through the partnership, we hope to play our part in the fight against the exploitation of children on the internet and educating children and young people about the safe and responsible usage of ICT. ”

IWF chief executive officer Susie Hargreaves OBE said: “We’re delighted that MTN has chosen to demonstrate their commitment to a safer internet for everyone by becoming a member of the Internet Watch Foundation. It’s only thanks to partnerships like these that we’re able to drive forward our mission to eliminate photos and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet. As the largest mobile operator in Africa, MTN’s alliance with the IWF will significantly impact the spread of criminal imagery across the continent and further afield.”

MTN adds that it is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact as well as the GSMA Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse.