Canada, May 29, 2013: A nationwide effort to address cyber bullying is holding a contest for an anti-bullying T-shirt design. The message can be literal or conceptual but must convey the idea of standing up to bullies. The design also should relate to the film, “Submit the Documentary,” which gives solutions to the growing problem of cyber bullying. The contest is open to residents in the United States and Canada who are aged 16 and over. The contest deadline is midnight on July 1. For further details see here. The top two designs will be put up for voting on www.facebook.com/submitthedoc.
Australia, May 30, 2013: People intentionally distributing an intimate image of another person without their consent should be charged with a new offence of sexting, a parliamentary committee report in Victoria has recommended. The Law Reform Committee’s chairman, Clem Newton-Brown, said the current law contained an anomaly that targeted minors but let off adults for similar actions. “Currently adults who send sexting pictures to others without the consent of the person in the picture are unlikely to have committed an offence,” Mr Newton-Brown said. “Whereas minors who took or sent sexting messages of themselves or their peers produce, possess, or transmit child pornography under the law, and may suffer serious and lasting legal, social, and employment repercussions if they are charged”. The report also recommends that minors who can legally engage in sexual relations with one another should not be regarded as child pornographers if they took a photo or video of that activity. However, if there is more than a two-year age difference between the minor depicted in an explicit image or recording and the person who possesses it, it should be treated as a child pornography offence. The Victoria government has six months to respond to the committee’s report.
USA, May 30, 2013: Being pro-active and not reactive was the goal behind a meeting of educators and online experts to make young people better online citizens. An event at Microsoft Thursday in California aimed to instill responsible behaviour. Experts in online safety, social media, and law enforcement call it “digital citizenship.” They’re helping educators weave responsibility and positive behaviour into the curriculum throughout the school year. Leaders in the field say parents play a vital role too. Two organizations, “A Platform for Good” and the “Family Online Safety Institute,” encourage parents and children to sign cards that spell out rules that come with getting a mobile phone, tablet, or smartphone. Chief Technology Officer at the Santa Clara County Office of Education Kelly Calhoun says kids are still developing and need adult guidance. “It’s incredibly important to use those opportunities to bring the technology into the conversation and bring that responsibility along for them as they develop.”
USA, May 30, 2013: Govenor Rick Scott today signed a bill (HB 609) that expands Florida’s current anti-bullying law to include cyberbullying and some activities that occur off-campus and on privately owned electronic devices. The law expands the scope of the state’s 2008 law, which prohibited bullying in public schools. That law did not specifically mention cyberbullying, though it defined unacceptable conduct that would fit the typical description of that word – bullying through technology or electronic communications. The new law also specifies that students can get in trouble for cyberbullying that occurs off-campus if their actions “substantially” interfere with a victim’s ability to take part in school activities or disrupts “the orderly operation of a school.” During committee meetings, some school administrators voiced concerns about that portion of the bill, fearful they could get in trouble for trying to monitor things students do off-campus, on their own computers or phones. The law says school officials have no obligation to monitor such behaviour, only to respond if it causes a substantial on-campus problem. The law, which goes into effect July 1, will require school districts to update their bullying policies to reflect the new provisions.
USA, May 30, 2013: It has been six days since the sexting scandal at Evanston Township High School prompted the school’s baseball team to drop out of the playoffs. The man behind a website aimed at informing parents about sexting dangers says situations like the one in Evanston can be avoided. “There are steps that moms and dads can take to mitigate the likelihood that their child would be involved in something like this,” said U Know Kids Founder Tim Woda. U Know Kids allows parents to monitor their child’s online and mobile activities. It lets them see their child’s recent Facebook activity, including incoming messages from others. U Know Kids was created after Woda said his son was targeted online by a sexual predator. That person is now behind bars, after pleading guilty to sexual solicitation of a minor.
USA, May 30, 2013: In the past five months, the ICAC team has opened active investigations into 12 separate cases of people posting images of child abuse on Pinterest boards. As of Thursday, charges were still pending in all of those cases. “People have actually posted on Pinterest – on non-password protected pages – actual images that are known child pornography…and put that out there saying, ‘Hey, this is what my hobby is,'” said ICAC head Ken Wallentine. “Essentially, it’s fishing for other images: ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, and by the way, here’s mine right up front.'” Federal law requires Pinterest to police itself. Reed said Pinterest employees were taking an “honourable pro-active” approach to monitoring the activity of others, and all of the cases currently being investigated by Utah authorities were brought to their attention by Pinterest officials.
UK, May 31, 2013: Kaspersky Lab is today announcing that it is offering free security protection software in the LinkedIn Safety Centre, providing users with an easily accessible and secure way to protect themselves online. The LinkedIn Safety Centre is designed to provide LinkedIn’s more than 225 million members with the tools and knowledge to protect their identity and data on the internet. In support of the initiative, Kaspersky Lab is offering a free 90-day trial of Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 and Kaspersky Security for Mac. The amount of malicious activity on social networking sites has been dramatically increasing each year as cybercriminals identify new ways to infect users. According to Kaspersky Lab data, in the first half of 2012, 80% of all compromised computers were attacked while browsing the web. Additionally, in 2012, phishers’ top targets were social networking sites (24.5%). To reflect this growing trend, Kaspersky Lab has expanded its efforts to increase online security through agreements with established social networking organisations, such as LinkedIn.
UK, June 2, 2013: Google will come under intense pressure this week to show “moral leadership” and take action against a “tsunami” of internet child pornography. Images depicting rape or torture account for 61%, while the victims are getting younger, with 88% now aged under 10. John Carr, an adviser to the Government on online child safety, said the scale of the problem in the UK is “mind boggling” with up to 60,000 individuals swapping or downloading child abuse images online. Yet annual arrests have never been above 2,500. It is estimated 360 million illegal images were seized in the two years to April 2012. In 1995, when the internet was in its infancy, there were just 7,000. Mr Carr will meet with officials from Google this week to discuss issues arising from the convictions of Mark Bridger who was sentenced last week to life in prison for murdering five-year-old April Jones, and Stuart Hazell, convicted last month of killing Tia Sharp, 12. Mr Carr wants Google and other providers to issue warnings to users who search for images of child abuse. He also called for the search engine to set up a default block on such sites that would require those trying to access them via search engines to register.
US, June 2, 2013: Dr Michael Nuccitelli, a New York State licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant, has released his iPredator Probability Inventory-Cyber Bullying tool (IPI-CB.) The IPI-CB is a 110-question diagnostic and educational tool designed to examine a child’s risk of being cyberbullied and their internet safety skills. In addition to developing the IPI-CB, Dr Nuccitelli designed 25 other internet safety and risk assessment tools specific to the typology, age of online user and organisation.
USA, June 3, 2013: On July 1, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission’s most recent amendments to its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule) will go into effect. These changes include a variety of requirements intended to keep up with advances in technology and how children interact with mobile apps and websites. The new requirements imposed by the amendments will no doubt require some app and website operators to modify their business practices to comply with the COPPA Rule. These amendments close several loopholes and clarify previously grey areas regarding the types of operators, services and personal information that fall within the Rule’s ambit. For apps and websites clearly directed to children under 13, the amendments provide an enhanced set of protections that appear to further COPPA’s overarching goal of creating a safer and more secure online experience for children. The amended COPPA Rule employs an “actual knowledge” standard, and requires compliance with its requirements when an operator or service provider has actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information through a child-directed app or website. Apps and websites that target a more general audience, where children are not the primary users, are only required to provide notice and obtain parental consent for those users who identify themselves as being younger than 13. Further, third parties (like plug-ins and ad networks) will be deemed to have the requisite “actual knowledge” if the child-directed nature of the content is directly communicated to that third party by the content provider, or if a representative of the third party service “recognizes” the child-directed nature of the content.
USA, June 3, 2013: New software available from the Aiken Department of Public Safety allows parents to monitor their children’s computer activities. ComputerCop tells parents what websites their children visit, what pictures and videos they view or download and how much information they share on the web. The software is available for purchase directly from Aiken Public Safety for $15. “Basically, the software will find and display images from their computer to the parent,” said Captain Maryann Burgess, a spokesperson for Aiken Public Safety. “It’ll find and display videos, images, text and websites and allows parents to review and delete some of these images that might be on their computer.” ComputerCop goes to work as soon as it’s placed into the CD drive of a computer. Almost immediately, images, videos, texts, documents, uploads, downloads and searches begin appearing in a window and can be viewed while the software is still pulling items from the computer. It can also search chat conversations in programs such as AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook chat. A sidebar allows the user to decide what they want to search for.
UK, June 4, 2013: Internet service providers (IPSs) are in talks over an opt-in policy for adult content on browsers, a move previously rejected by the government. In the UK ISPs are currently signed up to a code of practice controlling access to adult content, but the proposed Online Safety Bill would require users to prove they are over 18 and opt in. ISPs have so far criticised the plan because a default block would also block informative content on sexual awareness, stating the technology is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically filter out the pornography from helpful guides on sexual identity, health and abuse. Another opt-in concern comes from the adult entertainment industry, whose market is based on online credit card payments and people joining their websites; anything that stops this will jeopardise their economy. While a public consultation indicated that 35% of people were in favour of the move, there remain concerns over whether such a change could lead to censorship issues.
USA, June 4, 2013: Internet security company McAfee has found that while 71% of parents believe they’ve discussed proper online behaviour with their children, only 44% of young people aged 10 and up agree. “Our youth are engaging in all kinds of unsafe behaviour without the benefit of understanding how their actions will affect their lives,” Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at McAfee, said in statement. Tweens may not remember having conversations about internet safety, but they certainly know how to cover their tracks. The study says that 58% of young people know how to hide their online activities from their parents, and about 25% clear their browser history to do just that. And just what are they hiding? McAfee found that 57% of young people aged 13 and up are searching for information on sexual topics. Beyond their curiosity about the birds and the bees, teens and tweens spend most of their time on social media sites. Facebook leads the way (86%) followed by Twitter (59%) and Instagram (46%). Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat rounded out the top five most popular social media sites. When using these sites, the majority of teens believe it is safe to post their email address and other personal information. The survey found that parents continue to be in the dark about virtually every aspect of their child’s internet use. Most parents believe that teens are online about one or two hours a day (the reality is five or six hours), and 62% of parents think that their children can’t get into trouble online.
USA, June 4, 2013: Attorney General Luther Strange announced his partnership with Facebook and the National Association of Attorneys General in the Online Privacy Consumer Education Campaign today. The campaign coincides with the month of June serving as Internet Safety Month. Attorney General Strange partnered with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to film a Public Service Announcement that can be found on the Attorney General’s website and on his Facebook page. “The internet can’t take the place of a loving family, close friends, or a happy childhood. But, it can be a positive influence as kids grow up,” said Attorney General Strange in the PSA. “That’s why we need to make sure the internet is a safe and secure environment for everyone.” The Alabama Attorney General’s Office, along with 20 state and territorial Attorneys General, joined the consumer education campaign focused around safety and privacy.