Marriott to combat online child sexual abuse material

Marriott International has joined forces with U.K.-based nonprofit Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to combat online child exploitation by using technology solutions to restrict guest network access to websites with child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) in its hotels.

The collaboration will be the first of its kind for the hotel industry, according to Marriott, and marks the next step in the hotel company’s commitment to addressing a critical human rights issue for the industry. Marriott recently marked a significant milestone in its anti-trafficking efforts, training one million associates at Marriott hotels to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking.

The company has established a new Global Property Network Standard to have hotels block access to websites with CSAM from the hotels’ guest network. As part of this initiative with the IWF, Marriott is working with Cisco to implement its security technology to block access to CSAM-containing webpages on the IWF’s blocked URL list.

“Marriott is proud to be the first hospitality company to join the IWF and is utilizing Cisco’s security technology to restrict access to exploitative materials through hotel networks,” said Anthony Capuano, CEO, Marriott International, who will add the president title on Feb. 24. “As a leader in the hospitality industry and a company that believes in putting people first, Marriott has committed to fighting human trafficking and other pressing human rights issues. This initiative builds on our anti-trafficking efforts and survivor empowerment work, honors our core values and upholds Marriott’s commitment to human rights.”

According to the IWF, Marriott’s membership provides access to the IWF’s list of CSAM-containing web pages to better enable filtering and blocking. Each web page is manually assessed by the IWF analysts to confirm the presence of criminal content. Once the CSAM is removed from the web page, the IWF will also remove the web page from the list, ensuring the list is up-to-date and web pages are not unnecessarily blocked.

“In 2022 the IWF identified and removed more than 255,000 web pages containing child sexual abuse imagery,” said Susie Hargreaves, CEO, IWF. “This equates to millions of individual images and videos of children being exploited. It is through valuable partnerships with organizations like Marriott International that we can make the internet safer for both children and adults. By using our URL list to protect their networks and people from risks online, Marriott will help to reduce the suffering of survivors who are essentially revictimized when images of their abuse are viewed and shared online.”

Cisco’s Umbrella security solution will provide Marriott with efficient management of guest internet access, cloud-delivered web filtering, integrated SafeSearch browsing, and block lists and the configuration used by Marriott will prevent the collection of guest data.

“Cisco has a deep commitment to leveraging our unique strengths and success as a company to improve people’s lives, everywhere,” said Tom Gillis, SVP/general manager, Security Business Group, Cisco. “We know we can harness the power of technology to help address the challenges our society faces, and we are honored to support Marriott on this important work.”

Marriott conducted a pilot in November at six properties in the U.S. and will begin to deploy the technology throughout U.S. and Canadian hotels this month. A global rollout to other regions is expected through 2024.