The Pope has called for tech giants to take responsibility to prevent children’s access to pornography and other harmful content on the internet.
Speaking at a conference in the Vatican, the Pontiff admitted that the “painful and tragic experience” of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church gave it a sense of “duty to approach these issues with a long-term vision”.
RT reports: The Pontiff made the remarks during a two-day Vatican-run “Promoting Digital Child Dignity” conference, which was attended by religious leaders and tech insiders from companies like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google.
Francis argued that technology is outpacing regulation, and that it is no longer sufficient to let the law dictate how to tackle the scourge of child pornography and of childen accessing adult material.
“There is a need to ensure that investors and managers remain accountable, so that the good of minors and society is not sacrificed to profit,” he said.
The pope called on tech companies to assume moral responsibility by removing child porn from the internet and implementing more obligatory age verification technology, while leveraging artificial intelligence to prevent children from accessing explicit material online.
“It is now clear that they cannot consider themselves completely unaccountable vis-a-vis the services they provide for their customers,” he said.
Francis extolled the obvious benefits of technology for children, but said that it comes with risks that may not be immediately apparent, or may not take effect for years, at which point it will be too late to remedy the situation.
“So I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility toward minors, their integrity and their future,” he said.
The Catholic church has struggled with child sex abuse scandals around the world for decades. In recent years child porn has come to the fore, with one of the pope’s own bishops recently being sentenced to five years in prison by a Vatican court for child porn offences, while another bishop was found in a possession of child pornography on his cell phone.