London startup, SafeToNet, has raised millions in funding to develop its artificial intelligence (AI) child safety app that can stop children from sending dangerous messages before they have even finished composing them.
It works by using AI to automatically analyse a child’s outgoing messages for areas of concern such as bullying or sexting. If it detects such content it will automatically remove harmful words and advice the child of the risks in real-time, according to the company.
Plans are already underway to launch a new version of the app that will provide parents with insights into their child’s “digital wellbeing” without disclosing what is sent or received.
SafeToNet Chief executive Richard Pursey said: “There is a chance of a kid doing something silly online. They all make mistakes. But this is about helping your child avoid mistakes and feeding back to the parents about the risks”.
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The company raised £7 million in funds at a £50m valuation from angel investors and current investor West Hill Capital, which brings the total raised to roughly £20m. It has also secured a deal with the German government that will see thousands of children given free access to the app.
“We just wish the British government would do the same,” Pursey said. “We are putting a lot of skin in the game in where we are spending our money on this technology. The one reason we exist is to keep children safe online.”
The decision by the German government to partner with the company follows the launch of its new laws, known as NetzDG, which compels tech companies to swiftly remove hate speech or face heavy financial penalties.
Similarly, the UK government has launched an online harms white paper, which potentially could see tech firms fined if the new regulations become law.