Google to support online safety research with launch of new Dublin hub

28 Jan 2021

Image: © Thaspol/Stock.adobe.com

Google has announced a partnership with the Irish Research Council along with the establishment of a Safety Engineering Centre in Dublin.

A second Google Safety Engineering Centre (GSEC) will be established in Dublin. It will be unique from the first GSEC, established by the internet giant in Munich, in that it will focus on content responsibility.

The Dublin GSEC will serve as a regional hub for Google experts working to tackle the spread of illegal and harmful content.

The work done here will be shared with policymakers, researchers and regulators. As part of this effort, Google has also announced a partnership with the Irish Research Council to fund academic research into online safety.

‘The new GSEC will make it easier for regulators, policymakers and researchers to gain a hands-on understanding of how we deal with content safety’
– AMANDA STOREY

“Dublin is already a hub for our Trust and Safety teams in the region, comprising many different policy experts, specialists and engineers working to keep people safe online by using the latest technology and artificial intelligence,” wrote Amanda Storey, director of trust and safety at Google, in a company blog.

Storey explained that Europe has been leading many of Google’s safety efforts globally, with teams working on “everything from ad transparency and child safety to botnet research and violent extremism”.

“The new GSEC will provide additional transparency into this work and make it easier for regulators, policymakers and researchers to gain a hands-on understanding of how we deal with content safety,” she added. “It will also help everyone understand how we develop and enforce policies, how our anti-abuse technologies and early threat detection systems work, how we work with trusted flaggers, as well as our incident management processes and content moderation practices.”

Knowledge-sharing

Google’s first Safety Engineering Centre was opened in Munich in 2019 and continues to build tools to protect users’ privacy and security across Google and YouTube.

In all, the Big Tech company has more than 20,000 people working across a variety of roles in trust and safety teams around the world. These teams are already known to share information with researchers through collaborations such as Project Lumen from Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, which collects and studies online content removal requests.

GSEC Dublin is meant to enable close engagement with researchers on new trends and risks emerging online, while ensuring safeguards on confidentiality, user privacy and security. This collaboration will also be extended to civil society groups and NGOs promoting online safety.

The hub will serve as a content responsibility centre for Europe, sharing the knowledge gained through reports such as a recently published white paper on content moderation and information quality.

Through the GSEC, regulators and policymakers will also be able to access more information about how Google’s content moderation systems and other technologies work in practice, in a secure location that safeguards user confidentiality. This will support inquiries into Google’s conduct as well as official fact-finding missions.

Siliconrepublic.com has reached out to Google Dublin and the Irish Research Council for comment on the announcement.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com