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THORN Launch Brings Technology Innovation to the Fight against Child Sexual Exploitation

The DNA Foundation today announced a new name and refined mission for its organization. DNA will now be known as THORN: Digital Defenders of Children. The foundation will focus on the role technology plays in crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children – including the buying and selling of children for sex around the world, soliciting sex with children, and the proliferation of child pornography across the Internet. THORN’s goal is clear – to disrupt and deflate predatory behavior in the fight to end child sexual exploitation.

“For the past three years we have focused our work broadly on combating child sex trafficking. It has become crystal clear in our efforts that technology plays an increasingly large role in this crime and in the sexual exploitation of children overall,” said Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Co-Founders, THORN. “We believe that the technology-driven aspect of these crimes demands its own attention and investment.”

The statistics are staggering. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), reports that the number of child pornography files reported for victim identification has exploded from 450,000 digital images and videos in 2004 to over 17 million in 2011. THORN is working to make the Internet a more hostile environment for those who seek to exploit children.

According to Sergeant Byron Fassett, Dallas Police Department, “We are increasingly rescuing child sex trafficking victims who are either recruited through online channels or bought and sold over the Internet. THORN is addressing a real need within the area of child exploitation.”

THORN’s work focuses primarily on four areas: research, deterrence, innovation and industry initiatives. The foundation will continue to work closely with law enforcement, other NGOs, the private sector and its own “Technology Task Force” to create tools, policies and programs that will work to bring an end to these illicit activities and protect children.

THORN Technology Task Force
We know that predators now use technology to exploit children, so THORN is determined to turn the tables and use technology to protect children and deter predators. To do that, the foundation has created the THORN Technology Task Force — a group of more than 25 tech companies that collaborate on technological initiatives to fight child sexual exploitation. Companies include Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Symantec, SV Angel, Blekko, BlueCava, Connotate, Conversion Voodoo, DataXu, Hang, Irdeto, Mozilla, SalesForce Foundation, Digital Reasoning, Palantir and others.

“THORN works tirelessly to develop technological solutions to end child sexual exploitation,” said Joe Sullivan, Facebook Chief Security Officer. “Facebook is proud to partner with THORN and the entire Tech Task Force to end the exploitation of children. Developing innovative and robust solutions to keep children safe is critical.”

THORN has also partnered with San Francisco advertising agency Goodby Silverstein Partners - on a pro bono basis - for brand consulting, strategy, research and creative development.

For more information on THORN, please visit www.wearethorn.org, follow us on Twitter @THORN and facebook.com/wearethorn.

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