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U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Trump administration on Thursday announced an initiative with four other countries aimed at combatting the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The big picture: The move comes in the form of a set of voluntary principles crafted in consultation with industry, suggesting the administration is still looking to work constructively with Big Tech on the issue, despite heated Washington rhetoric around using the law to compel firmer action.

Driving the news: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said the other countries of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — will join the effort.

  • The officials announced 11 voluntary principles backed by tech companies meant to establish a baseline for companies to deter the use of the internet to exploit children.
  • They include proactively identifying material depicting or encouraging child sexual abuse and reporting it to law enforcement, as well as doing the same for exploitative behavior, such as using online platforms to groom minors.

Background: Barr highlighted the cooperation from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat and Roblox in crafting the principles.

  • Those companies are part of a broader Technology Coalition formed in 2006 to fight child sexual exploitation online.
“We stand behind these principles and will be working with our members to both spread awareness of them and redouble our efforts to bring industry together to promote transparency, share expertise and accelerate new technologies to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Technology Coalition joint statement.

Between the lines: The moves from the administration come as lawmakers seek to pressure tech companies to take more action against child exploitation online by threatening the industry's liability shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

  • The "EARN IT" Act from Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-NC) and Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) would condition some Section 230 protections on complying with best practices to prevent online child sexual exploitation.
  • Those best practices would be developed by a commission that includes the attorney general, leading some critics to fear Barr would condition 230 protections on law enforcement access to encrypted communications.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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