FOSI Briefs

Family Online Safety Institute

Online safety for children and their families.


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Sexting: Felony or Flirting?
16 October 2014

Some categorize the practice of sexting as youthful risk taking, others define it as modern day flirting and there are others that believe it to be a felony. The reasons behind teenagers sending naked pictures of themselves to others has been discussed at length among industry experts and academic researchers, and opinions vary greatly about how best to respond. However, it is the response and plans of legislators and law enforcement officials that is of particular interest.

The punishment of those engaged in sexting, typically defined as the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone, has varied around the United States and around the world. Some US states have chosen to prosecute minors to the full extent of the law, resulting in severe punishment up to and including the requirement to register as a sex offender for life. In contrast, other states have developed diversionary programs designed to educate teenagers and change behaviors. To date, there has been no specific Federal response to this behavior. However it is clear to many that the use of criminal laws should be reserved to punish those for whom they were created, and not as a catchall for imprudent teens.

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Student Data Privacy: The Challenges and Opportunities
17 July 2014

With the introduction of over 100 state bills, draft federal legislation, recently released industry released best practices and updated Department of Education guidelines in 2014 alone, student data privacy is an increasingly important issue across the United States.

Congressional hearings, media stories, and ongoing public debate have furthered the discussion and divided general opinion. At the extremes there are those who advocate for abundant use of technology both in the classroom and throughout the education system, highlighting the many advantages of data driven learning. In opposition, are people who express concern about the hazards of collecting and storing the personal information of children. In the middle there are those searching for the balance between allowing children to access all the benefits of data based-learning, while ensuring that private information remains protected.

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UK Family Filters Address Some Concerns but Raise Others
24 March 2014

Last year, under considerable pressure from the United Kingdom Government, the UK's four largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were forced to bring forward the deployment of a new Internet filtering regime. The Daily Mail had been running an intense "Block Online Porn" campaign through its newspapers and online, while two high-profile child murders linked to the viewing of child abuse material added to the pressure. Finally, a speech by the Prime Minister in July ensured that all households would be given the unavoidable choice to filter their Internet.

The move in the United Kingdom to block certain online content at a network level in the name of child protection has raised concerns among free speech advocates. At the same time, proponents of blocking argue that giving parents the option to limit their child's access to potentially harmful content is the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, the sites that are blocked, the actual or perceived extent of government involvement and the safeguards that are implemented will contribute to the success or failure of the filters.

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Pivot to the Positive: The Australian Approach
16 July 2013

The last 10 years have seen considerable focus and investment in cybersafety by the Australian Government, industry and non-profits. Incorporating a hybrid of approaches from all around the globe, Australia has developed its own innovative approach to the new technologies that are strengthening and creating ties to neighboring countries and to the wider world.

In June 2013, FOSI partnered with Telstra and held a forum entitled "Global Digital Citizenship: Encouraging Safe and Responsible Use Online." The event aimed to bring together stakeholders from across Australia and the surrounding region to talk with those from the US and Europe about best practices, initiatives and educational programs that promote digital citizenship. The informative one-day event was grounded in Australian culture, society and politics so as to ensure that solutions and discussions were applicable to the region.

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Latest Thinking on European Policies and Practices
06 June 2013

At the Family Online Safety Institute's recent forum held in Dublin the discussions revolved around safety, digital citizenship, data protection and privacy, and incorporated perspectives from representatives of the European Commission, Irish Government and Data Protection authority and the UK Government and Data Protection Commission.

The Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union provided an opportunity to revisit the current situation in Europe and discuss emerging challenges and opportunities for collaboration. In a keynote address at the event, provided by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, she underlined the challenges presented by the Internet in stating, "we've got to control the worst and promote the best."

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Industry Commits to Make the Internet a Better Place for Children in Europe
22 February 2013

On December 1, 2011 Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes launched the CEO Coalition to make the Internet a Better Place for kids. After 433 days, dozens of meetings and countless informal discussions industry finally reported back on February 5, 2013 on their individual and collective commitments.

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The Implications of the FTC's New COPPA Rule
25 January 2013

On December 19th the Federal Trade Commission released its much awaited revisions to the Rule that supplements the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The new text has divided opinion among industry, privacy advocates and app developers and the impact of the changes will be felt not just in the United States but around the world.

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Trends in Online Safety: The Trans-Atlantic Debate and its Global Implications
01 October 2012

Today the Internet touches the daily lives of over 2 billion people and this number is increasing every day consequently issues around privacy & safety are growing ever more important. Governments around the world are attempting a variety of measures to protect their citizens, while offering them access to an unrivalled resource where they can learn, share ideas and connect with others.

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Active Choice Features at UK Online Safety Summit
13 July 2012

This summer, government, industry, academics and non-profits are working together in the United Kingdom to protect children from harmful content they may access online. In 2008 the United Kingdom took the global lead in children's Internet safety. Drawing on recommendations from Professor Tanya Byron's report, 'Safer Children in a Digital World,' the UK government convened over 180 stakeholders to work together to ensure that children experienced all of the great opportunities of the online world, while minimizing the risks.

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Safety & Privacy in a Digital Europe
29 May 2012

On May 15, 2012 the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) hosted a forum within the European Parliament in Brussels, designed to bring together the European Commission, Parliament, key industry players and civil society for informal discussions. Against the backdrop of an activist European Union, the panels covered key topics in Internet safety, privacy and the need for a complementary international approach.

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European Commission proposes reforms to Data Protection Law
13 February 2012

On January 25th, 2012, the European Union introduced its much anticipated reforms to the 1995 Data Protection Directive. The proposals offered by Commissioner Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, are some of the most sweeping changes to data protection and online privacy ever made. In addition to working to create a digital single market, as proposed in the 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe, the rules create new consent mechanisms for both adults and children, increased individual control over personal data and a right to be forgotten for all.

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