FOSI News 2009

Family Online Safety Institute

Online safety for children and their families.

 

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1st December 2009

FOSI Applauds NCTA Proposal to Expand Broadband to Unserved Communities
Digital literacy programs essential during broadband rollout

WASHINGTON – The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), a leading international nonprofit group dedicated to protecting kids on the Internet, today released the following statement in response to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) proposal for the Adoption Plus (“A+”) pilot program:

“FOSI supports the Adoption Plus proposal to extend broadband to unserved communities, particularly due to the focus on digital literacy. As we encourage greater broadband adoption across the country, it’s essential to include educational programs that encourage online responsibility and digital citizenship. This large and complex challenge will only be tackled through public/private partnerships such as the one proposed and we applaud NCTA for its efforts.”

For more information on FOSI, visit www.fosi.org, the FOSI YouTube Channel, Facebook and Twitter.

About Adoption Plus
The Adoption Plus (“A+”) pilot program is a proposed two-year, public-private partnership designed to promote sustainable broadband adoption for a vitally important-but-vulnerable population – middle school-aged children in low income households that do not currently receive broadband service. The program is called Adoption Plus because it is a comprehensive approach that treats broadband adoption as a multi-faceted problem that requires multi-faceted solutions. Barriers to adoption – e.g., relevance, digital literacy, computer ownership, affordability – are interwoven and cannot be resolved in isolation.

The goal of the A+ program is to help give millions of students the opportunity to become digital citizens of the 21st Century by driving sustainable broadband adoption and positively and materially affecting educational outcomes. Meeting this goal would not only advance the economic and social well-being of participating students, it would advance the economic and social well-being of our nation for decades to come. 

11th November 2009

San Jose Mercury News

Magid: Treating kids on the Web in a new way

"I spent part of last week in Washington, D.C., attending a gathering that turned out to be a watershed moment in the 16-year history of online safety education.

The third annual conference of the Family Online Safety Institute brought together about 400 Internet safety advocates around the theme of "Building a Culture of Responsibility: From Online Safety to Digital Citizenship."

The event, which drew participants from 15 countries, was different from previous years in that young people were viewed less as potential victims of online crimes and more as participants in a global online community." Read more of Larry Magid's article...


WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

November 06, 2009 Friday

Education, Law Enforcement Both Necessary for Online Safety, Panel Says

SECTION: Vol. 10 No. 214

Education and reaching across specialities to work together on online safety are important, law enforcement and safety specialists agreed Wednesday at the Family Online Safety Institute's annual conference. But the pendulum shouldn't swing so far in the direction of education that law enforcement is forgotten, said Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety.
Law enforcement is needed to put people's feet to the fire, issue subpoenas and go after wrongdoers, Aftab said. Education is simply one component of an online safety program, she said, and educators can only go so far in telling minors not to do things -- like take naked pictures of themselves -- that they should know anyway.
There's an constant need to respond and send a message from law enforcement about appropriate behavior, said Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch. He acknowledged an ongoing discussion about the appropriate response to sexting when the senders and receivers are minors themselves. Some prosecutors have taken to charging the minors as sex offenders, but Lynch said he's not out to make a felon of a 14-year-old. On the other hand, he said, if older teens send photos to each other when they're friends, and then when they cease being friends use those photos to hurt the other, then, he said, "that merits a response." He's not backing down from the idea that such actions must be dealt with, he said, although law enforcement is still struggling with how to deal with the situation.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said his SAFE Act, S-1047, would promote Internet safety education and the initiatives aimed at the prevention of cybercrime. He urged the audience to contact their representatives to advocate for the bill because too many members of Congress don't understand the need. The online danger won't go away, he said. Yet he doesn't want to put the brakes on this "wonderful new vehicle," he said. Further, he said being tech savvy isn't just about safety; it's also about economic empowerment and becoming prepared for the new workforce. Menendez said it's necessary to explore why children behave the way they do online, how marketing affects their thinking and behavior, and how everyone uses technology.
States are still figuring out how to respond, the attorneys general said. Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said his state hopes to become the fifth in the nation to have a dedicated digital forensics crime lab, which would focus on digital evidence from computers, iPods, cameras and other devices. Lynch told the companies present to be proactive about developing relationships with law enforcement and officials in their states. He reminded them that officials change -- there will be at least 16 new attorneys general after the 2010 election, he said, including in Rhode Island where he is term-limited out of office. New attorneys general can be dangerous, he said, but for the most part they're eager to educate themselves. Sgt. Jim Smith, of the Connecticut Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, asked the corporations to think of front-line law enforcement in their outreach. It's good to speak to high-level officials, he said, but the officers at the state and local level want to know how technology works and how they can use it.
Aftab suggested to the law enforcement officials on the panel that they should create some type of outreach so people know whom to call when they're victims of a cybercrime. So many of the thousands of e-mails her organization receives each day are from people confused about whom to contact, she said. -- Leslie Cantu 


WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

November 06, 2009 Friday

No Reason to Mess with COPPA Age Rules in FTC Review, Conference Told

SECTION: Vol. 10 No. 214

Age 13 still seems to be the most appropriate for regulation as originally set in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which the FTC has promised to review early next year (WID Nov 4 p1), tech companies and an industry regulator told the Family Online Safety Institute conference late Wednesday. But more worrisome than the FTC requiring more stringent data-collection rules for older children is the potential for more "super-COPPA" laws coming from the states, they said. Such a law in Maine, dealing only with health privacy, was deemed so unworkable that the state attorney general refused to enforce it following an outcry from marketers, though the legislature will likely try again with a narrower law next year (WID Sept 1 p6).

A review of other countries' kid-privacy laws finds a 12-14 year-old age range for getting "verifiable parental consent" before collecting their children's information, said Stephen Kline, vice president of public affairs, policy and security for Privo, an FTC-approved COPPA certification service. The law is "structured" for kids 13 and under, said Wayne Keeley, director of the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "The technical expertise" of older children would make it difficult to monitor and enforce data-collection regulation for ages over 13, he said. "There's a certain innocence built into the age range."

When the FTC last reviewed COPPA, most kid-friendly sites were directed at teens, but sites for five- to 10-year- olds have "exploded" in the past few years -- they are the fastest-growing demographic in virtual worlds, for example, Kline said. The "reasonable expectation" standard, under which sites must get parental consent if they think it's likely kids would visit them, has also worked well, Keeley said. His unit was approved by the FTC under the COPPA safe- harbor program to create and enforce its own self-regulatory guidelines, which will be updated around January to account for behavioral targeting, he said. The safe-harbor program has given companies an incentive to go beyond compliance, Kline said: They often ask Privo for "X, Y and Z on top of that, going well beyond COPPA." Another trend, though, is the use of paid subscriptions, which makes parental verification easier and avoids problematic advertising issues, he said.

Simply because the Maine law went down doesn't mean marketers should assume other states won't try their own versions, Kline said: "There's enough grassroots interest" for potentially many bills to be introduced around the country. The Maine law, which required marketers to get parental consent before collecting "health-related information or personal information from a minor" (WID Aug 28 p3), was poorly drafted all around, as a judge later agreed, he said. Other states will probably be more careful in drafting their laws while still testing the limits of COPPA's state-preemption provisions, Kline said, predicting a "constant drumbeat."

Speakers noted a bill in New Jersey would require any site or online service "directed at adolescents," defined as ages 13 to 17, get parental consent, going beyond COPPA both in age limit and breadth of sites covered. An Illinois bill would target all social networking sites, not just those directed at kids. Improved accuracy of age-verification technologies will give state lawmakers ammunition to push for laws that they claim aren't overly burdensome on sites that draw kids, Keeley said.

But approval of any super-COPPA law would basically graft the struck-down Child Online Protection Act onto the COPPA regime, which would "force the hand" of the feds to preempt them, said Adam Thierer, president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation. James Dirksen, managing director of "Web categorization" provider RuleSpace, said there were already models for age-verification abroad -- the U.K., for example, uses mobile-phone billing records to verify ages of those seeking access to certain sites. Importing such a system to the U.S. would require a whole new regime, though, Keeley said, and "there's still something of a lag in technology" to do it well. Kline warned that the U.S. probably doesn't want to follow the lead of countries such as China. -- Greg Piper 


WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

November 06, 2009 Friday

CAPITOL HILL

SECTION: CAPITOL HILL

  

Congress should direct agencies managing broadband stimulus money disbursement to set aside $500 million over the next two years to teach children in primary and secondary school about the Internet, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow said. The money should be used to pay people to teach kids and parents about technology, particularly in "underserved" school districts, he told a Family Online Safety Institute meeting on Thursday. "There are some members of Congress and policy makers among the federal agencies who are open to the idea," he added. "We must vigorously renew this call to acknowledge as a national priority digital literacy for children and families." 


WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

November 05, 2009 Thursday

Internet Makes 'Visible' Kids' Problems for Society to Address, Researcher Says

SECTION: Vol. 10 No. 213

The Internet hasn't changed children's behavior as much as it has shown parents, teachers and lawmakers the problems that have always existed, such as bullying and sexual experimentation, a social-media researcher at Microsoft Research New England said Wednesday at the Family Online Safety Institute's annual conference. Danah Boyd, also a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, said social workers and "non-custodial adults" must be brought in alongside law enforcement to reach children, who often lack parents' support, to deal with their problems. Other researchers explained children's thinking patterns online and the promise of videogames to promote positive behavior based their own studies. All agreed that policymakers need to base legislation on solid research. But no lawmakers or bills were singled out for criticism or praise.
The familiar statistic that one in seven children online are sexually solicited lacks crucial context, Boyd said. Nearly half the come-ons are between minors, she said. Girls "think it's cool to get attention from older guys. ... Kids are very active as agents in this process." Research on cyberbullying is much less developed, because there's no authoritative definition, Boyd said: It could include anything from "lightweight teasing" to sexual, physical and psychological violence. "All of a sudden, we're forced to contend with the fact that we don't actually know ... how to deal with bullying," leading many to blame technology and miss the "roots" of the problem.
Parents often play a negative role even if unintentionally, Boyd said. Bullying sometimes comes from a perceived lack of control, and one of the new expressions of that feeling is pressuring friends to share their Internet passwords as a sign of trust - just as parents have long done with their children, she said. Recent research has shown that kids are exposed more to sexually graphic content on TV than on the Internet, a statistic that "seems absolutely insane," Boyd said. But in her in-home research, she said, she found parents watching R- and X-rated programming with their kids in the living room, though there was an "extreme class divide" in where this happened, implying that lower class adults were more permissive. Sexting has become more common because children want to "show off their bodies ... long before they're actually having sex," Boyd said, adding that parents aren't talking to their children early enough about sexting.
"Youth-generated problematic conduct" online often comes about because kids see celebrities such as Paris Hilton doing it, Boyd said. "Self-harm" sites, for kids to injure themselves in front of an online audience, involve demographics the opposite of those for porn, she said: Children of wealthy families are the overwhelming percentage of participants. But the activities show the same need for control, Boyd said. Kids are "very much seeking out help, they're seeking out attention" for their offline problems such as parental drug use. Through the Internet "we have this amazing ability to reach out," even as American society has "tried to segregate" in gated communities and polarized groups, she said.
Children's thinking and behavior online is largely driven by "consequences," said Carrie James, the research director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her most recent research, the GoodPlay Project, studied 15-25-year-olds in connection with social networks, gaming, blogging, content creation and sharing. "For all the shining examples of digital superkids who are blogging about social issues ... I would argue that there are a lot more confused kids out there," she said, and a major factor is the "near absence" of adult roles models in their online lives.
Teens and young adults mostly think about how their online behavior will affect themselves, a frequent response concerning illegal downloading being, "I hope this doesn't get me in trouble," James said. Less common is "moral thinking" - considering others' feelings when blogging or taking into account how in-game actions will affect a player's guild. "Ethical thinking" -- considering in abstract terms the effect on society -- is the least common among young, she said. One interview subject, a college student studying music, said he stopped illegal downloading when he learned of its effect on musicians' careers.
A positive strategy for educating children is using games, said Carly Shuler of Sesame Workshop's Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which has researched the use of emerging media with young children since Sesame Street's debut. The group's Game Changer policy brief on videogames found that 85 percent of 2-14-year-olds play games and 9-year-olds play nearly an hour daily on average, she said. Some games that have shown positive effects include Horsepower Challenge, in which kids compete against each other for fitness using "smart pedometers," Shuler said: Nearly half started eating better and exercising with their families. The ReMission game allows children with cancer to battle the disease virtually, to increase their knowledge and encourage their will to fight. The center's most recent study, not officially released, found that nearly half the most popular paid applications in the iTunes Store are aimed at preschool and elementary children, although "these are not devices that are targeted at children," Shuler said. Thhis shows that devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch should be considered a medium for reaching young children, she said.
All the research is a treasure trove for lawmakers, Boyd said. "Make your policy grounded in research." Some takeaways include the need for social workers and "non- custodial adults" in children's lives to be more involved with children's problems as made "visible" online and to concentrate on "at-risk" children. Most children's organizations have good ties to law enforcement and the FBI, but that's it, she said. Shuler said digital media should be used in education, but there are gaps between the marketing of tech products such as applications from iTunes as educational and their value. "There's a huge role for policymakers" in the area, she said without specifying the direction she supports. One way to encourage children to start thinking ethically online is to promote their taking part in online communities, James told a questioner.
The influence of older peers is also crucial, researchers said. "Cousins are a really key character in this," especially for poorer children, but older siblings are broadly trusted across social groups, Boyd said. James said the GoodPlay interviews showed kids were concerned about their younger siblings and the Internet. "I believe that's something that can be leveraged and tapped." - Greg Piper
Family Online Safety Institute Notebook ...
The Obama administration's push for expanded broadband has a foreign-policy component, said Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation in the secretary of state's office. The use of technology to organize and motivate supporters of then-candidate Barack Obama is better known than the new administration's use of technology to "empower, rather than overpower, in our foreign policy," he said. Diplomacy has changed little in recent centuries, Ross said. But access to technology abroad is transforming the ability of the U.S. to reach, and in turn hear from, the poor and powerless abroad. A friend of Ross' used to visit a "tin toymaker" in a poor village whenever he visited Togo, buying a few of his comical creations. But the toymaker told the friend on his latest visit to just send a photo by e-mail of what he'd like made into a toy, Ross said. On a recent trip to a poor village in the Congo where the average villager made less than $200 a year, Ross said he found 300 mobile-phone kiosks doing brisk business, and even a refugee camp made a business out of charging others' phones. "It's chapter one, page one" for mobile technology around the world, he said. - GP 


WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

November 05, 2009 Thursday

Internet Makes 'Visible' Kids' Problems for Society to Address, Researcher Says

SECTION: TODAY'S NEWS

The Internet hasn't changed children's behavior as much as it has shown parents, teachers and lawmakers the problems that have always existed, such as bullying and sexual experimentation, a social-media researcher at Microsoft Research New England said Wednesday at the Family Online Safety Institute's annual conference. Danah Boyd, also a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, said social workers and "non-custodial adults" must be brought in alongside law enforcement to reach children, who often lack parents' support, to deal with their problems. Other researchers explained children's thinking patterns online and the promise of videogames to promote positive behavior based their own studies. All agreed that policymakers need to base legislation on solid research. But no lawmakers or bills were singled out for criticism or praise.
The familiar statistic that one in seven children online are sexually solicited lacks crucial context, Boyd said. Nearly half the come-ons are between minors, she said. Girls "think it's cool to get attention from older guys. ... Kids are very active as agents in this process." Research on cyberbullying is much less developed, because there's no authoritative definition, Boyd said: It could include anything from "lightweight teasing" to sexual, physical and psychological violence. "All of a sudden, we're forced to contend with the fact that we don't actually know ... how to deal with bullying," leading many to blame technology and miss the "roots" of the problem.
Parents often play a negative role even if unintentionally, Boyd said. Bullying sometimes comes from a perceived lack of control, and one of the new expressions of that feeling is pressuring friends to share their Internet passwords as a sign of trust - just as parents have long done with their children, she said. Recent research has shown that kids are exposed more to sexually graphic content on TV than on the Internet, a statistic that "seems absolutely insane," Boyd said. But in her in-home research, she said, she found parents watching R- and X-rated programming with their kids in the living room, though there was an "extreme class divide" in where this happened, implying that lower class adults were more permissive. Sexting has become more common because children want to "show off their bodies ... long before they're actually having sex," Boyd said, adding that parents aren't talking to their children early enough about sexting.
"Youth-generated problematic conduct" online often comes about because kids see celebrities such as Paris Hilton doing it, Boyd said. "Self-harm" sites, for kids to injure themselves in front of an online audience, involve demographics the opposite of those for porn, she said: Children of wealthy families are the overwhelming percentage of participants. But the activities show the same need for control, Boyd said. Kids are "very much seeking out help, they're seeking out attention" for their offline problems such as parental drug use. Through the Internet "we have this amazing ability to reach out," even as American society has "tried to segregate" in gated communities and polarized groups, she said.
Children's thinking and behavior online is largely driven by "consequences," said Carrie James, the research director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her most recent research, the GoodPlay Project, studied 15-25-year-olds in connection with social networks, gaming, blogging, content creation and sharing. "For all the shining examples of digital superkids who are blogging about social issues ... I would argue that there are a lot more confused kids out there," she said, and a major factor is the "near absence" of adult roles models in their online lives.
Teens and young adults mostly think about how their online behavior will affect themselves, a frequent response concerning illegal downloading being, "I hope this doesn't get me in trouble," James said. Less common is "moral thinking" - considering others' feelings when blogging or taking into account how in-game actions will affect a player's guild. "Ethical thinking" -- considering in abstract terms the effect on society -- is the least common among young, she said. One interview subject, a college student studying music, said he stopped illegal downloading when he learned of its effect on musicians' careers.
A positive strategy for educating children is using games, said Carly Shuler of Sesame Workshop's Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which has researched the use of emerging media with young children since Sesame Street's debut. The group's Game Changer policy brief on videogames found that 85 percent of 2-14-year-olds play games and 9-year-olds play nearly an hour daily on average, she said. Some games that have shown positive effects include Horsepower Challenge, in which kids compete against each other for fitness using "smart pedometers," Shuler said: Nearly half started eating better and exercising with their families. The ReMission game allows children with cancer to battle the disease virtually, to increase their knowledge and encourage their will to fight. The center's most recent study, not officially released, found that nearly half the most popular paid applications in the iTunes Store are aimed at preschool and elementary children, although "these are not devices that are targeted at children," Shuler said. Thhis shows that devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch should be considered a medium for reaching young children, she said.
All the research is a treasure trove for lawmakers, Boyd said. "Make your policy grounded in research." Some takeaways include the need for social workers and "non- custodial adults" in children's lives to be more involved with children's problems as made "visible" online and to concentrate on "at-risk" children. Most children's organizations have good ties to law enforcement and the FBI, but that's it, she said. Shuler said digital media should be used in education, but there are gaps between the marketing of tech products such as applications from iTunes as educational and their value. "There's a huge role for policymakers" in the area, she said without specifying the direction she supports. One way to encourage children to start thinking ethically online is to promote their taking part in online communities, James told a questioner.
The influence of older peers is also crucial, researchers said. "Cousins are a really key character in this," especially for poorer children, but older siblings are broadly trusted across social groups, Boyd said. James said the GoodPlay interviews showed kids were concerned about their younger siblings and the Internet. "I believe that's something that can be leveraged and tapped." - Greg Piper
Family Online Safety Institute Notebook ...
The Obama administration's push for expanded broadband has a foreign-policy component, said Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation in the secretary of state's office. The use of technology to organize and motivate supporters of then-candidate Barack Obama is better known than the new administration's use of technology to "empower, rather than overpower, in our foreign policy," he said. Diplomacy has changed little in recent centuries, Ross said. But access to technology abroad is transforming the ability of the U.S. to reach, and in turn hear from, the poor and powerless abroad. A friend of Ross' used to visit a "tin toymaker" in a poor village whenever he visited Togo, buying a few of his comical creations. But the toymaker told the friend on his latest visit to just send a photo by e-mail of what he'd like made into a toy, Ross said. On a recent trip to a poor village in the Congo where the average villager made less than $200 a year, Ross said he found 300 mobile-phone kiosks doing brisk business, and even a refugee camp made a business out of charging others' phones. "It's chapter one, page one" for mobile technology around the world, he said. - GP 


CBS News

November 2, 2009 Wednesday

Creating Better "Digital Citizens"
Internet Safety Conference Will Discuss Media Literacy, Cyberbullying, Self-Destructive Online Behaviors

 

This week nearly 400 Internet safety advocates are expected to attend the third annual Family Online Safety Institute Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. The event, which is expected to draw attendees from 14 countries, is a gathering of Internet safety advocates from industry, nonprofit groups, academia and government.

 

The theme of this year's conference, "Building a Culture of Responsibility: From Online Safety to Digital Citizenship," reflects a significant change in the thinking of many online safety experts. "Of course we need to teach basic safety skills," said FOSI CEO Stephen Balkam, "but we need to move to the next stage which includes digital citizenship and responsibility." Read more...  


August 27, 2009

WASHINGTON INTERNET DAILY

Policy Efforts to Protect Children Online Take New Tack, Say Observers

 

Industry needs to show legislators and regulators the progress it's making in creating technical tools for Internet users to protect their privacy, said Jules Polonetsky of the Future of Privacy Forum, in a Family Online Safety Institute discussion of online safety and privacy. Simply saying regulation will "break" behavioral advertising and expecting legislators not to legislate isn't going to work anymore, he said: "We need to give them some meat or we'll just be reacting." Frank Torres of Microsoft agreed the burden is on industry to show its efforts. But with states jumping in with their own privacy legislation, sooner or later one will pass a law that will break the Internet, he said.

In the wake of several task forces on online children's safety, there seems to be growing recognition of the downsides to age verification, said Adam Thierer of the Center for Digital Media Freedom at the Progress & Freedom Foundation. He said the first round of the "age verification wars" has ended, but the second phase has just begun, and it involves legislators who see the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act as a back door to require age verification. He sees more often the convergence at the state level of COPPA and COPA, the Child Online Protection Act thrown out by the courts. The problem, said Berin Szoka, director of the Center for Internet Freedom at PFF, is that COPPA works well now but it won't if the age range is raised or companies start feeling pressure to verify all users. Once the knowledge standard is changed, as Maine has done by passing a law that makes companies responsible, regardless of whether they know they're dealing with a minor or a Maine resident, the law becomes COPA, because companies will need to verify all users to identify those under 18, he said.

Denise Tayloe, CEO of Privo, which handles parental consent for Web sites and is a safe-harbor provider under COPPA, said she wants legislation that would make it illegal for adults to impersonate minors with the intent to cause harm. The identity hijacking legislation that has appeared has covered only posing as a real person, not creating a false persona, Szoka said. Tayloe said companies that want to offer sites for children face huge liability risks. Protecting children is a great expense for small companies that don't have the staff and expertise of a News Corp. or Microsoft, she said. Sites want to provide an advertising- free experience for children, because so many advocates fiercely oppose kids advertising, but moderating sites takes money and the few subscription members don't cover the many free ones. She also cautioned against making the "false sense of security" argument against age verification, saying it puts child-oriented Web sites in a no-win situation. Thierer said he has made the argument about a false sense of security but against across-the-board requirements of age verification. Small walled gardens can be reasonably secure, he said, but that principle won't extend to the entire Internet, and that's where the false sense of security comes in.

The discussion briefly took up the FTC's upcoming review of COPPA and virtual worlds. The lawyer who's the commission's point person on those subjects couldn't attend the session. In his absence, Szoka said he has heard speculation that there could be requirements to create special teen versions of social networking sites, much as Second Life has done. Alternatively, social networking sites could decide to assume that every user is a minor, unless the user chooses to verify himself as an adult, Tayloe said. -- Leslie Cantu


July 9, 2009

Internetnews.com

 

Google, Verizon, Others in New Child Safety Push: NCTA-led task force calls on policymakers to promote education and digital literacy to keep kids safe online.

Learn more


July 3, 2009

Guardian Online

David Miles, FOSI's European Director talks about the the changing nature of online risks on the Internet. The article explores software filtering and the emergence of user-generated content. Learn more


June 16, 2009

Guardian Online

Digital Britain: Opening up broadband comes with responbilities, says FOSI. Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) is calling for more research into the phenomenon of 'sexting' as it warns of the extra responsibilities and implications of expanding internet services for all.

In a conference designed to coincide with the launch of the Digital Britain report, FOSI is bringing together academics, corporate experts and industry trade bodies to discuss online safety for children, particularly around mobile phones. Learn more


June 2, 2009

Tech Daily Dose

FOSI press release statement in support of National Internet Safety Month gets deserved attention. Learn more


May 12, 2009

BBC Radio Somerset

  

Dave Miles, FOSI's European Director took part in a live debate on BBC Radio Somerset about the benefits and safety issues surrounding the use of the Internet. Featured on Emma Britton's Morning Show the debate was wide ranging and coincided with a number of important online initiatives in the region. The broadcast is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/local_radio/. Just click on Listen Again and select Emma’s show broadcast. FOSI is featured at around 10:30 AM in the broadcast.

April 28, 2009

Huffington Post - Qikker than Twitter

Stephen Balkam, FOSI's CEO, talks about Qik, the new wireless streaming video technology that like Twitter can have significant implications for child safety. Click Here to View


 

April 23, 2009. ARC TECHNICA

A kinder, gentler response to adolescent "sexting." An interesting article by Matthew Lasar on sexting amongst young people as discussed at the recent CTIA and FOSI hosted Wirelss Online Safety Conference. Click Here to View

 


 

April 23, 2009 Thursday. Washington Internet Daily

 

FTC to Expedite Review of Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule

 

The FTC said Wednesday it will speed up the regulatory review of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule with an eye on whether the rule should be modified to address changes in the wireless marketplace, brought on by a new generation of smartphones and other advances in technology. The review of the rule was supposed to get under way in 2015 but will start instead next year, the FTC said.


Release of the report was announced at a symposium sponsored by CTIA and the Family Online Safety Institute. The gathering examined the increasingly complex online safety issues confronting parents, wireless carriers and government at all levels. Speakers at the conference highlighted a growing list of challenges, such as "sexting" where teens send indecent photos of themselves to friends. The photos can be used maliciously, for example sent to others after teens break up.


FTC Commissioner Pamela Harbour said the agency has already taken "substantial" enforcement actions tied to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which was approved by Congress in 1998. The FTC also plans to use the federal government's OnGuard Online program as a "launching pad" for a nationwide education effort on online safety for children, as required by the recently enacted Broadband Data Improvement Act.


"The issues raised by these new interactions are as complex as the technologies themselves," Harbour said during a keynote at the conference. "While there can be many benefits to new technologies there can also be, as we know, unintended consequences." Harbour encouraged interested parties to work together. "Only through engagement and encouragement can we work together to identify areas of concern and where necessary to develop solutions," she said.


"I've been at CTIA now going on my sixth year," said President Steve Largent, who opened the conference. "This has been a top priority for me, personally, as it was when I was a member of Congress. We will continue this work, continue this effort, continue working with community groups across this country that are also looking to protect children from predatory behavior."


Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler warned that sex offenders have already figured out how to use the Internet for wrongdoing. "They're so far ahead of where we are in law enforcement that we need to do catch up," Gansler said. He said one problem is that online crimes often slip through the cracks. "We can do a lot legislatively and we do," he said, but enforcement is just as critical. Local district attorneys' major concern is "street crime -- rapes, murders, arson, burglaries and so forth," he said. Federal law enforcement officers "are properly and naturally focused on homeland security issues ... So there's a huge gap in the law enforcement world on the Internet." State attorneys general often have to fill the void. "We would like to work with the wireless companies and those in the wireless industry," Gansler said. "It's important. It makes sense for everybody."


Georgia state Sen. Don Balfour (R), president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said states have looked at online safety issues very carefully and most have laws that make it illegal to use the Internet to lure children for the commission of a crime. Seven states mandate online safety education in the schools and 46 have cyberstalking laws.


But Balfour said practices such as "sexting" point to how complicated many online safety issues are. "You struggle to work through these things," he said. "When two people at 13 do something they're not supposed to do, I hesitate to charge them with a crime, personally. I hesitate to all of a sudden make them sex offenders ... Now there are other examples where the girl sends a picture to the boy and they break up and he sends it to 100 of his best friends in the school. That's a different case."
In addition to committing to a faster exam of its online safety rule, the FTC said in a written statement that cost disclosures about wireless services continue to generate consumer complaints. "The FTC staff will continue to monitor cost disclosures, bring law enforcement actions as appropriate, and work with industry on improving its self-regulatory enforcement," the agency said.


The FTC also warned that while spyware and malware are not a major concern to date for wireless Internet, they could become so as smartphones grow in popularity. "The FTC and its law enforcement partners should continue to monitor the impact on consumers of unwanted mobile text messages, malware, and spyware, and take law enforcement action as needed," the agency said. "Wireless carriers currently block hundreds of millions of unsolicited text messages every month. The cost to the carriers is substantial, but the cost to consumers of receiving voluminous amounts of unwanted text messages would be far greater."


Panelists cautioned that regulations might not be the best means to improve online safety. They urged more transparency in service providers' privacy policies and more clarity in state and federal privacy laws. Sprint Nextel's online safety approach focuses on offering choices to parents on the level of access and education programs, said Ed Palmieri, deputy chief privacy officer. Teaming with online safety groups and law enforcement agencies is critical for service providers, he said. Though sharing similar principles, carriers seemed to have different safety approaches, he said. As a result, having policy and regulations might not work for every carrier, he noted.


Having a consistent policy across different media platforms is important, said Jack McArtney, Verizon's associate director of advertising and content standards. A key for online safety is about making all the information and tools available for consumers, he said. A big challenge for law enforcement agencies is the knowledge gap between the offender and law enforcement agency, said Monique Roth of the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Offenders are taking advantage of the gap, she noted, urging more funding for state-level enforcement agencies. On location-based service, the trick is making LBS easier to use while making sure customers know of the potential risk of disclosing location information and tools to avoid misuse of the service, said Palmieri. -- Howard Buskirk, Yu-Ting Wang

 

For more information on the this exciting event click here


 

April 16, 2009 Thursday. Washington Internet Daily

Online Safety Must be Part of Larger Discussion, Speakers Say

SECTION: Vol. 10 No. 72
To teach online safety, schools need professional training for teachers who might be technically proficient in their personal lives but unsure how to teach safety concepts to their students, said a panel assembled by the Family Online Safety Institute. They said schools also need affordable curricula easy to work into their many other responsibilities.
Cybersafety education must be part of a comprehensive approach to school problems including alcohol and drug use, steroid use, truancy, bullying and guns, said Bill Modzeleski, associate assistant deputy secretary in the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. Problems like cyberbullying may seem minor, but that "doesn't mean we can ignore them," since crises grow out of small matters that are ignored, he said.
Online safety isn't just about "protecting kids," said Jim Teicher, the CEO of CyberSmart. It's about making sure that students can benefit from the modern world, he said. Schools that shut down collaborative sites because the police have warned them about all the scary things that could happen to kids aren't helping their students gain from the world what the Internet could open to them, he said.
Online safety should be infused in other school subjects and in character education, Teicher said. Modzeleski said safety even extends to academics and to creating good schools with teachers who can engage their students. Academic success tends to lead to good behavior, he said.
Teachers, however, tend to be uncomfortable dealing with cybersafety, ethics and security, said Marsali Hancock, the president of iKeepSafe. The group is introducing a matrix to show that those concepts can fit into the standards which schools must teach to. Teicher said every lesson that CyberSmart offers is aligned with standards. Modzeleski said he'd like to see cybersafety taught starting in preschool. Children absorb technology from the time they're small, so to wait until they're in middle school to begin discussing online safety means they've had 13 or 14 years of doing things a particular way, he said. It's hard to get people to change after that long, he said.
Online safety should be the responsibility of more than just the schools, the speakers said. Teicher advocated putting pressure on Internet or phone providers to include educational material in their monthly bills. "They're the ones that are profiting from these technologies," he said. The public sector needs to pressure the companies to do more, he said. Laurie Nathan, the outreach manager of NetSmartz Workshop, said parents can be difficult to reach, and at-risk children often have parents who aren't involved. Making materials short and easily consumable is the key to gaining parents' interest, she said. NetSmartz has also found it can go where parents are looking for parenting help, like "mommy blogs." Hancock said companies can use their human resources departments, which generally already have a communications program with employees, to teach employees about Internet safety.
Schools vary widely in their approaches to technology education. Nathan said some schools use technology successfully. It must be a schoolwide effort, she said, not one or two teachers alone. Modzeleski, however, warned against jumping into technology with the assumption it will automatically be better. There's an assumption that using wikis, video clips and other online tools will improve outcomes, he said, but no one actually knows that yet. -- Leslie Cantu


 

February 2, 2009. Digital Britain - Interim Report. The UK Government has published a plan to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy. The interim report contains more than 20 recommendations, including specific proposals on next generation networks,universal access to broadband, the creation of a second public service provider of scale, the modernisation of wireless radio spectrum holdings, a digital future for radio, a new deal for digital content rights and enhancing the digital delivery of public services.

The Byron Report has contributed significantly to this report. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) was a core recommendation and has now been established. One of its roles will be to implement a child Internet safety strategy as part of the Digital Britain Report. FOSI is a member of the UKCCIS Council.

 


 

January 23, 2009. Peer to Peer. Last year, 49 state attorneys general created The Internet Safety Technical Task Force to study the problem of how to keep kids safer online. A year later, the task force's findings have caused some controversy. Namely that the biggest threat to kids on the internet comes from their peers. Task force member and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute Stephen Balkam discusses the study.

 


January 18, 2009. Online Damage: Porn in the 21st Century.(No longer available).

In this BBC broadcast Penny Marshall examines the effects of the rapid expansion of online pornography on UK society. She talks to those who use online porn, including couples trying to repair the trust and intimacy dented by the persistent and secretive use of porn sites. She also hears from psychologists who are concerned that young people are in danger of having their understanding of sexual relationships permanently damaged by what they see online.


January 20, 2009. Towards a New Culture of Responsibility. An article for Inauguration Day by Stephen Balkam in the Huffington Post.

 


washingtonpost

January 13, 2009. Online Privacy Decisions Confront Obama

 


 

washingtoninternetJanuary 7, 2009 One Task Force About to Report on Online Safety, Another to Start

 


 



 

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