Investors have an important role to play in safeguarding all of us from online harm.
Safety measures should be considered from the very start of the design and development process, rather than being bolted on after users have already experienced online harm. Managing these risks up front can help to mitigate significant costs to reputation, brand values and business performance.
Safety by Design (SbD) encourages and helps organisations to take a proactive and consistent approach to user safety.
Investors and venture capitalists can ensure online platforms and services are safe for users by reviewing and implementing the Safety by Design principles which cover:
- service provider responsibilities
- user empowerment and autonomy
- transparency and accountability.
Investors should consider these principles when deciding whether to fund or invest in start-ups and tech companies.
Start-ups and tech companies should provide assurances that they are operating according to their published safety aims, as well as educating and empowering users about steps they can take to address safety concerns.
Use the resources on this page to help embed Safety by Design in the investment process.
Investors can use these checklist questions to start conversations with potential investees that will help assess their capacity for managing online safety risks.
- Do you refer to user safety in your company’s mission statement, corporate values or principles?
- Is there a team or individual responsible for user safety?
- Do you have clear and visible terms of service and community guidance/acceptable use policy?
- Are official safety review procedures part of the product design process?
- Do you moderate behaviour on your service (either in-house, outsourced, community-driven or a hybrid approach)?
- Can you detect and flag illegal conduct and content to prevent harm before it occurs?
- If illegal activity occurs, do you have processes in place to notify law enforcement, support services and illegal content hotlines?
- Do you have systems in place for breaches of your terms of service or community standards?
- Do you provide users with tools and features that allow them to manage their own safety?
- Do you have visible and simple reporting systems and appeals processes for users to lodge complaints or concerns about their safety, which are actioned within dedicated timeframes?
- Do you take proactive steps to inform users about safety policies, features and advice on your service?
- Where does the company publicly share information relating to user safety?
You may like to download and share the investment checklist in the Resources section of this page. It includes explanatory notes about Safety by Design.
eSafety's suggested model clauses for due diligence and pre-conditions to funding can be implemented before proceeding to a formal funding agreement or used as a condition of funding.
Download and use the template in the Resources section of this page, or adapt the content to ensure that online safety considerations are built into your investment.