Thank you very much to all of you for being here today.
Nothing is more important than keeping children safe. Those who would hurt children are relentless in their efforts and never stop looking for new opportunities to satisfy their depraved perversions.
So it’s vital that we stay ahead of them.
Advancements in technology have led to major, even revolutionary benefits to society.
In particular, Artificial Intelligence can be a powerful tool for good, with immense opportunity to grow the global economy, deliver better public services, and tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.
However, whilst such technologies have enabled us to enhance our livelihoods and our societies, they also pose significant risks with their misuse for criminal purposes – one of which is the sexual abuse of children.
As Home Secretary, I continue to champion efforts across the UK and internationally to bear down on the threat posed to our children.
AI presents a huge risk, but also an opportunity to tackle child sexual abuse.
This month I visited the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, with my counterpart at the Department for Homeland Security, Secretary Mayorkas, and saw first-hand the abhorrent material being generated right now.
In the UK, the Internet Watch Foundation is a critical partner in our efforts to eradicate child sexual abuse online. They said recently that they have begun to see AI-generated child sexual abuse imagery.
I am very grateful to the Internet Watch Foundation for your tireless efforts to ensure that the images and videos of children being abused are removed from the internet.
I’m very pleased that you have joined me as partners on this important event today.
Generative AI poses a particular risk, because it provides child sexual abusers with the capability to produce unprecedented quantities of life-like child sexual abuse imagery.
We will hear shortly in more detail about the impact that this will have on our collective ability to respond to online abuse. It will only make the internet a more dangerous place.
Now is our opportunity – which we simply must seize – to ensure that these risks do not materialise.
Only through collective joint action that harnesses our combined expertise, resources, and knowledge can we ensure that appropriate safety measures are put in place.
Later in this session, the Policing Minister will lead a discussion with leading experts and voices from across the tech industry, safety tech sector, and law enforcement.
This will explore the innovation required to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place, and how AI can also be utilised as a force for good, including in tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Inevitably, AI does not respect borders. That’s why international action and cooperation is so vital.
As a global leader in tackling child sexual abuse, the UK is uniquely placed to bring the world together to ensure that AI is built safely and securely so the huge benefits can be enjoyed by all.
With countries coming from different starting points and with different perspectives, we have to find a way to come to a shared understanding of the risks posed by AI, and the need to test and monitor them.
We also need to collaborate on safety research and highlight the shared best practice for AI developers internationally.
So I’m delighted to see so many different organisations represented here today.
This is just the start of the conversation, and the UK Government wants to continue working collaboratively with you over the next few weeks and months on these issues.
And I hope that we can speak as one voice with the joint statement we have prepared – which will send an unequivocal message that AI must be a force for good, and not a threat to children.