EU, June 4, 2013: CEOs and senior board members from the world’s digital, media and tech companies have met in Brussels to report on how they are making the internet a better, safer place for kids, through the work of the CEO Coalition set up by the Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes at the end of 2011. Children now go online at very young ages, and the CEO Coalition has been working on strong, simple reporting tools for users who experience problems; a choice of age-appropriate privacy settings; wider use of content classification so users and their parents know what to expect while surfing online; wider availability and use of parental controls; and more effective takedown systems for child sexual abuse material. Neelie Kroes said: “Children need [good] quality content online, and skills and tools for using the internet safely. Parents need support. And we are all better off if companies play a leading role in this effort. So we need to join forces for a greater impact. We all agree that making a better internet for children is important, and that it needs to be tackled, synergies between us should be found, in education, in partnerships and elsewhere. Together we should become the ambassadors of child online safety.”
USA, June 5, 2013: Pinterest has largely been categorised as a social media site dedicated to sharing do-it-yourself projects, recipes and fashion ideas. But Utah investigators are finding something far more sinister on the website: child pornography. Utah Internet Crimes Against Children task force field commander Patty Reed said in an interview this week that her office is investigating about a dozen cases in which Utahns may have “pinned” illegal images to their Pinterest boards. Pinterest administrators first tipped off authorities about the pornographic images, Reed said, adding that by law, websites and social media sites like Pinterest are required to report any instances of child porn on their sites. Using geolocation software, the social media administrators were able to trace the images back to computers used in Utah, Reed said.
USA, June 5, 2013: As part of its ongoing mission to educate parents about internet and mobile safety issues and trends, uKnowKids, a leading “Parental Intelligence System”, announced the planned release of several unique online resources in accord with National Internet Safety Month. uKnowKids understands that a critical part of keeping kids safe online is teaching parents and children internet and social networking safety. On Thursday, June 6th, uKnowKids released an eBook entitled, “Digital Dangers and Strategies during the Lazy Days of Summer” that will help parents recognise online risks that are more prevalent in the summer months when children are out of school. A SlideShare with the same name has also been released. uKnowKids interviewed some of the most prominent internet safety experts and leaders in the industry and assembled an infographic with the most important safety tips from each of them.
Australia, June 7, 2013: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been challenged to put child safety ahead of profits by identifying and automatically blocking users who are seeking child pornography. Authorities estimate that, every month, more than 2,000 unique internet users in a single Australian state will download child pornography. The worrying statistic has prompted two prominent child protection advocates to call for immediate action by the global search engine giants. Sonia Ryan, South Australian of the Year for 2013, and University of SA Professor Freda Briggs want search engines upgraded so they recognise requests for child porn and alert police. They also want the software to “lock down” on child porn requests so the user receives no results whatsoever. “If Google can figure out our buying habits from our search terms, why can’t the company block perverted requests as soon as they’re entered?” Ms Ryan said. “These global corporations need to take their blinkers off and realise our kids are being preyed upon by strangers fuelled by sick online fantasies.” Online search engines do not automatically block users from accessing sexual material. Instead, their operators subscribe to international, non-government internet monitoring groups that seek out and identify illegal websites. Those groups inform the search engine companies. The companies then remove those sites from their search indexes so they do not appear on results pages.
USA, June 7, 2013: Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has partnered with Facebook to launch a national consumer education campaign focused on online privacy. The campaign, entitled “What You Can Do to Control Your Information,” is a partnership between Facebook and the National Association of Attorneys General aimed at educating teens and their parents on how to protect themselves while online. The state Attorney General is among 20 attorneys general participating in the campaign. The team collaborated to create a series of videos and a tip sheet on internet privacy. The campaign’s June launch was timed to coincide with National Internet Safety Month.
USA, June 10, 2013: In support of National Internet Safety Month, NBCUniversal‘s “The More You Know”, in collaboration with NBC News, has launched “Growing Up Online”, a free, interactive eBook for parents, teachers and kids about digital literacy and internet safety. “Growing Up Online” offers informative, media-rich tools to help parents in discussions with their children about using technology responsibly and safely, as well as entertaining video comic books focused on real-life situations that might arise when kids go online. The eBook features NBC News journalists including Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Dr Nancy Snyderman speaking about the importance of keeping kids safe online. “Growing Up Online” is available as a free download on Apple’s iBookstore for iPad and iPad Mini, Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Kobo, as well as online for desktop and laptop viewing at www.themoreyouknow.com.
USA, June 11,2013: Microsoft has responded to the backlash surrounding the Xbox One and its controversial used-games and connectivity policies. Speaking with GameSpot today, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Game Studios Phil Spencer said gamers will ultimately vote with their wallets. “We always knew that our story would play out over time. And even now, I would say, this isn’t a sprint,” Spencer said. “The platform launches this November; we’ve got more content to share. There are other means like Gamescom [and] TGS coming that will still continue to put a value [proposition] on what we’re bringing to market. The reaction, I think, is complete when the product is on the shelf and it has a price and it has a content library and consumers vote.” The Xbox One mandates users connect to the internet once every 24 hours to authenticate games. In addition, the console supports used games, but decisions about allowing or denying them will be left up to individual publishers. GameSpot contacted major publishers including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Bethesda, Warner Bros, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Konami about their stance on Xbox One used games and did not received a definite stance from any company.
UK, June 13, 2013: Police have this week launched a major campaign called “Know the Signs” to raise awareness of child sex exploitation. Hard-hitting radio adverts are being broadcast throughout the county, which inform people of what to look out for and how to report suspicions. West Yorkshire Police have created a dedicated section of its website to offer information and advice at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse, while posters and advice cards are being distributed by neighbourhood policing teams. Ingrid Lee, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, said: “Child sexual exploitation is when someone under the age of 18 is groomed by an adult, with the intention that they or another person sexually assaults them. The campaign is designed to highlight the signs to parents, carers, friends and family. Anyone who has been subjected to child sexual exploitation, or who has any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
USA, June 12, 2013: California-based internet technology company iVeriFly Inc, today announced another use for its groundbreaking identity verification system: it can prevent children accessing websites without parental consent. Children’s website operators and other sites that may gather data from children under 13 are required to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires them to obtain verifiable parental consent before processing a child’s registration. Unfortunately, COPPA does not define how to obtain consent, but the FTC has offered suggestions on to comply, such as sending an email to the parent requiring them to respond with their digital signature, or requiring them to use a credit card to authenticate their child’s age. However, the problem with these and other suggested methods is that they rely upon the accuracy of whatever email address someone provides while registering. iVeriFly’s patent-pending technology offers website owners an easier, more reliable alternative. To establish identity, iVeriFly sends an email to whatever address a child provides while registering on a website, which includes a series of random questions unique to the parent’s personal history.
USA, June 13, 2013: Most American parents keep tabs on their kids’ activity on Facebook, but a significant percentage also say they take a hands-off approach. That’s according to a survey from the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at USC. Nearly two-thirds of parents monitor their children’s Facebook visits and nearly half have their passwords. But three out of ten parents said they let their kids handle their social media activities. One of the major reasons: trust. Either parents said they trusted their kids or they didn’t want their kids to think they didn’t trust them. Nearly one out of ten parents said they did not monitor their kids because they do not know how to use Facebook and 7% said they just don’t have time.
USA, June 17, 2013: A new study examining the online habits and interests of preteens, teens, and young adults suggests that many parents are not only unaware of how their kids are behaving in the digital domain, they are increasingly throwing in the towel when it comes to tracking and enforcement. Meanwhile, kids appear to be exploiting their parents’ frustration while simultaneously becoming more adept at hiding what they do online. The study, entitled “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids”, was conducted by the digital security company McAfee, a subsidiary of Intel Corporation. The researchers for McAfee conducted 2,474 online interviews in the US among 1,173 young people aged 10-23 and 1,301 parents with offspring in that age range. In what is perhaps the most shocking finding, 62% of parents say they don’t think their children can get into serious trouble online. Combine that misconception with the fact that eight out of ten parents have no idea how to find out what their children are doing online and you have a recipe for cultural calamity. The majority of parents (74%) freely admitted to the surveyors that they do not feel up to the task of monitoring their kids. Their main excuse: they don’t have the technical knowhow, time or energy to keep up with their kids’ online activity. Instead, they hope for the best. While 39% of parents try to monitor their children’s online behaviour with parental controls, tech-savvy teens take advantage of their parents’ limited tech acumen and bypass the surveillance. Almost 70% of the kids say they are effective at hiding their online behaviour from their parents. Of the 41% of tweens that have passwords set for mobile apps by their parents, 92% of them know the passwords. More than half (60%) of tweens’ parents think they do not know the passwords.
UK, June 17, 2013: Google is to spend £3.1m fighting child pornography and abuse, following criticism that it is not doing enough to prevent the spread of harmful online imagery. With a Whitehall summit on online protection looming, the internet giant has pledged to tackle child sex abuse images through “hashing” technology that gives each picture a web “fingerprint” that can be identified and removed. Google’s funding package includes the £1m announced last week for the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation. The US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children will receive funding as will Google’s Child Protection Technology Fund. Similar bodies in Brussels, Canada, Australia and Latin America will also receive funding. The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, called the summit after it was revealed that the murderers of Tia Sharp and April Jones had viewed child pornography. The companies attending the summit are Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Vodafone, O2, EE and Three. Mrs Miller will chair the talks and be joined by the Communications minister, Ed Vaizey, and the Home Office minister Damian Green. The issue of internet security, raised by the Prism affair in the US, is expected to come up but sources said that the main focus would be ridding the internet of child pornography.
Canada, June 17, 2013: The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced today that Canada is joining the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online. “Our Government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe and to protecting the most vulnerable members of society – our children,” said Minister Nicholson. “Child sexual exploitation is a horrific crime. Canada continues to lead, support and implement numerous initiatives, domestically and abroad, to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children, but no country can fight this crime alone.” The goal of the Global Alliance is to strengthen international determination to fight internet predators and child abuse images online. It focuses on identifying and helping victims, prosecuting offenders, increasing public awareness and reducing the availability of child pornography online.