Pope tells tech companies they are responsible for child safety

Pope Francis blesses a child as he arrives for the general audience at the Vatican, October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
Pope Francis blesses a child as he arrives for the general audience at the Vatican, October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

Philip Pullella, Reuters:

Pope Francis said on Thursday that technology company executives and investors must be held accountable if they put profit before the protection of children, including from easy access to pornography on the web.

“Companies that provide (internet) services have long considered themselves mere suppliers of technological platforms, neither legally nor morally responsible for the way they are used,” Francis said. “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.”

Francis said the Church’s “painful and tragic experience” with its own sexual abuse crisis gave it a “duty to approach these issues with a long-term vision.”

Citing studies that show the average age of first access to digital pornography is 11, Francis said companies must make greater efforts to identify the age of users and intensify cooperation with law enforcement to combat child pornography. “I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility towards minors, their integrity and their future,” Francis said.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, protection of children online is in desperate need of strengthening and tech companies should do all they can to provide useful tools for parents to use to protect their children.

Pope Francis’ full speech to “Child Dignity in the Digital World” Congress via RomeReports can be read here.


    1. While I recognize the hypocrisy of the Pope’s statement with respect to the historical failures of the Catholic church to stop child molestation, that should not overshadow the merits of his message.

      The current Pope shows great compassion for the people and appears to be worthy of great respect. The primary concern that I have with the Pope’s statement is that it focuses on the tech companies (and investors) while failing to acknowledge the other stakeholders in protecting the health and welfare of children. For instance, Apple is not holding thousands of children in detention for extended periods, or failing to address legitimate asylum claims. Apple is not failing to deal with gross income inequality. Apple is not failing to address the fact that millions of U.S. citizens do not currently have health care and millions of others have inadequate health care that could easily leave them destitute and homeless.

      We need to work together to improve the health and welfare of children worldwide.

      1. Kingmel:
        All of your “points” fail to mention the MOST important stakeholders in these issues and the persons who should be responsible for properly ensuring safety etc. — the PARENTS! Duh!
        Every concern you raised is a parental area of responsibility. Don’t have 4 times the children you can properly raise and support. Monitor your kids to keep them safe in all aspects of their upbringing. It’s known as self-responsibly and self-reliance.

        1. Duh? That is an argument? Go back to elementary school.

          The Pope’s comment about Apple didn’t mention parents, either. Are you going to attack the Pope, too? Where is the logic in attacking me for failing to include every possible aspect of an argument in a short forum post? Of course parents are critical to the welfare of children! In your outrage, however, you failed to consider that some children do not have parents or even guardians to look after their welfare. Or, if they do, their parents may not have the means to protect and care for them properly. Or, perhaps, they do not care.

          At any rate, children who are suffering and dying don’t care about the Internet. I don’t see the churches in my area opening their doors to house and care for the homeless. The homeless receive charity in the streets, which is apparently where people believe that they belong.

          The more time that I spend on this forum, the fewer people I find that I can respect. If you bother to disagree with me, at least refrain from resorting to “duh” at the end of a completely “duh” assertion. Anyone can play the “what about” game.

      2. The Pope’s comment would only be hypocritical if he were denying the responsibility of the Catholic Church for past abuses. He hasn’t done that. He is taking steps (which may or may not be adequate) to correct the situation. It is not hypocritical for him to call on others to do what they can to protect children, too.

      3. It is difficult to have a meaningful debate on this forum. People pick at minutiae and totally miss the bigger picture.

        There are atrocities being committed to children worldwide on a daily basis that far outweigh the concerns of online content and predation. Many of these children may not even have access to the Internet. They are more concerned about starvation, disease, war and violence.

        This is also true in the U.S. where thousands of children from the border have been separated from facility and locked up. Just this week, more children were killed in yet another school shooting. Many others face homelessness, surviving by doing whatever they must while “civilized” people turn their heads and reassure themselves that is could never happen to them of their children.

        You can pick on my assertions if it pleases you. There has long been partisan extremism on this site that leads to attacks on perfectly logical arguments and the defense of the indefensible. But you are the one that has to live with yourself and the consequences of your actions and beliefs in the end. I like to think that karma wins in the end.

    1. Yes, it’s an either/or proposition. Child welfare should wait, be put on hold, until the Catholic Church is perfect (which will never happen because its impossible). So, indefinite hold on child welfare. tech companies are absolved because the Catholic Church has issues. Makes total sense.

      I’m tired of fscking idiots.

  1. So how do you impeach a Pope?

    It isn’t any companies responsibility to teach or protect the children of the world, it’s the family and parents, and in his prevue, the catholic (little c) community.

    1. Ah, the IG Farben defense: it wasn’t our company’s responsibility how the government used the Zyklon B. We just provided the technology. Somebody else operated the gas chambers.

      No. Everybody has an obligation to do what is in their power to protect children and others who cannot protect themselves. Ideally, everybody should be acting together to share the work. It is sad if that isn’t happening, but it does not get any of the individual actors off the moral hook to say that somebody else isn’t doing their job.

      There is no Gospel justification for the whataboutism that seems to be consuming society. When you are saying whataboutthebidens or whataboutclergyabuse or whataboutvenezuela, you are avoiding your duty to act as an independent moral agent regardless of what others might do.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.