Washington, DC

2019 Annual Conference

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November 21, 2019
U.S. Institute of Peace


November 21, 2019
U.S. Institute of Peace

On Thursday, November 21st, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted its 2019 Annual Conference, entitled "2020 Vision: The Future of Online Safety." This event convened leaders across industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector to discuss a wide spectrum of topics within the areas of best practice in technology policy, digital parenting, privacy, ethics, and artificial intelligence, among many more.

Patricia Vance, President of the Entertainment Software Rating Board and Chair of the FOSI Board, opened the event. Stephen Balkam, FOSI CEO, delivered keynote remarks.

The first presentation of the day was the launch of the new whitepaper, Online Safety in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. FOSI released the paper in partnership with the firm Kaleido Insights, and the presentation was conducted by analyst Jessica Groopman, who co-authored the paper. Ms. Groopman talked through the main themes of the paper, namely the need to connect the emerging technological phenomena of artificial intelligence and its implications with key actions needed to advance a culture of responsibility online across the stakeholder spectrum.

These ideas transitioned into the first plenary panel discussion of the day, a further exploration of Online Safety in an AI World, featuring additional speakers from the Aspen Institute, Intel, and the Future of Privacy Forum. The panelists considered the conclusions raised in the whitepaper, while further discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by advanced technologies in the years to come, both for industry and society.

Stephen Balkam conducted a one-to-one fireside chat with Josh Sherman, Director of Kids and Family at Amazon. They discussed the role of tech companies in creating both kid-safe products and content. Sherman referenced the “walled garden” approach Amazon has taken to curating the material that kids can access through their products, and the ways that the company has incorporated the best interests of parents and families into their approach to privacy.

Rosie and Lucy Thomas of Australia’s PROJECT ROCKIT gave a featured presentation about their organization’s approach to fighting hate and bullying online. By involving young people directly and giving them agency and ownership over their digital lives, PROJECT ROCKIT seeks to empower youth to be upstanders online, showing kindness and compassion to create a sense of positive, supportive community on social media.

The morning’s keynote address came from Federal Trade Commissioner Christine S. Wilson. The Commissioner discussed legislation, the upcoming potential changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the need to be strong and proactive around keeping kids safe online. She also discussed her family’s personal experience with tech use and online bullying, emphasizing the need for kids to learn about digital citizenship at home first, with the involvement of parents.

Morning breakout sessions explored a diverse set of topics. A panel focused on privacy and COPPA further explored the state of online safety legislation, self-regulatory efforts, safe harbors, and education technology. A forward-thinking look at the future of new technologies and corporate social responsibility convened a panel of industry experts who discussed parental controls, age verification, and the many challenges of digital parenting. Shining a Light on The Dark Corners of the Web highlighted the achievements and ongoing challenges of those working to combat illegal material online in the law enforcement community. Additionally, a panel of high school teens participated in a live recording of the podcast Their Own Devices, conducted by experts Marc Groman and David Reitman.

Afternoon breakout sessions featured a panel on digital play, It’s Play Time! which convened top names in the toys and gaming industry such as Mattel, Roblox, LEGO, and Sesame Workshop, with moderation by Boston Children’s Hospital. Is Being Online Time Well Spent? addressed digital wellbeing from the perspectives of Google, ESRB, Crisis Text Line, and the psychology field. Panelists covered how individuals and families can work to find a healthy tech balance using the tools and controls available to them, and how technology is intertwined with aspects of mental health. What is the Research Telling Us? convened top thinkers in the research space from the Oxford Internet Institute and the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, along with AT&T and Microsoft, to dive into the latest online safety reports. Topics included online safety legislation (particularly CAMRA), product design and the way it may change how kids interact with entertainment technology, and trends in social media use among teens.

In the final plenary panel of the day, representatives from NetSafe New Zealand, Twitter, GSMA, the Mercatus Center, and the App Association discussed The Future of Online Safety Policy, taking an international look at the impact of online safety policies such as Europe’s GDPR and Section 230 in the US. The strengths and weaknesses of algorithms were discussed, as well as the need for strategic and forward-looking approaches to content moderation and crisis response for online platforms.

Family Toolbox in a Digital Age featured a one-to-one chat between Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Online Safety, and Mimi Ito of University California Irvine and the Connected Learning Lab. In addition to reiterating the need to protect kids online, Davis and Ito’s session expanded on the many opportunities that kids benefit from in their digital lives, specifically the ability to connect with others that share their passions and to have a space in which to create meaningful community. Their discussion also covered the need for parents in particular to take part and listen to what is happening in their kids’ digital lives as a way to connect with them.

The final session of the day featured a presentation by author and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, who spoke about the themes of her new book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day Per Week. Shlain was then joined by Mary Jordan of The Washington Post for a discussion about the social and personal implications of heavy screen use and our highly connected lives: what we benefit from, and what we can improve by taking a more critical look at how, why, and when we pick up our devices.

Videos from the plenary sessions and presentations can be viewed on FOSI's YouTube channel.

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Thank you to our sponsors:

Champion of Corporate Responsibility
Supported By


Svetlana Gans

Vice President and Associate General Counsel
NCTA – The Internet and Television Association

Morgan Reed

Association for Competitive Technology

Dona Fraser

Senior Vice President, BBB National Programs’ Privacy Initiatives and head of the CARU
Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU)

Kristelle Lavallee Collins

Senior Content Strategist
Digital Wellness Lab

Tina Kim

Product Portfolio Manager

Shawn Rodriguez

General Counsel
Crisis Text Line

Mary Jordan

National Correspondent
Washington Post

Caroline Curtin

Policy Counsel

Natasha Jackson

Head of Public Policy and Consumer Affairs

John Shehan

Vice President, Exploited Children Division
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Fares Alraie

Chief Information Security Officer
Mattel, Inc.

Josh Sherman

Director of Kids and Family

Amy Barnes

Police Officer
Chicago Police Department

Martin Cocker

Chief Executive Officer

Erin Riggins

Director, Product Management and Marketing

Joe Laramie

Program Manager
National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College

Lauren Culbertson

Public Policy Manager

Gerard Williams

Section 504 Compliance Officer
Federal Communication Commissionn

Sara Kloek

Director of Education Policy, Programs and Student Privacy
Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA)

Natasha Duarte

Policy Analyst
Center for Democracy & Technology

Jerri Lynn Hogg

Director, Media Psychology Program
Fielding Graduate University,

David Reitman

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Medstar-Georgetown University Hospital

Kole Binger

Associate Research Specialist
Social Media & Adolescent Health Research Team, University of Wisconsin

Jennifer Huddleston

Technology Policy Research Fellow
CATO Institute

Roland Graf

Associate Professor
Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan

Neil Giacobbi

Associate Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility

Brenda Leong

Senior Counsel and Director of Strategy
Future of Privacy Forum

Mindy Brooks

Senior Director, General Manager for Kids and Families

Cordell Carter

Executive Director, Socrates Program
The Aspen Institute

Dr. Andrew Przybylski

Professor of Human Behaviour and Technology
University of Oxford

Michael D. Preston, PhD

Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center
Sesame Workshop

Christine S. Wilson

Federal Trade Commission

Leena Elias

VP of Product Delivery

Wenchi Yu

Head of Global Public Policy

Glen Pounder

Director of Programs
Child Rescue Coalition

Jennifer DuBuisson

Senior Director Government & Public Affairs, Americas
The LEGO Group

Jessica Groopman

Kaleido Insights

Laura Higgins

Director of Community Safety and Digital Civility

Tiffany Shlain

Author & Filmmaker

Marc Groman

Privacy & Data Protection Advisor
Groman Consulting Group LLC

Chloe Autio

Government & Policy Group
Intel Corporation

Patricia E. Vance

Entertainment Software Rating Board*

Stephen Balkam

Founder & CEO
Family Online Safety Institute

Rosie Thomas

Co-Founder, Co-CEO
Project Rockit

Lucy Thomas

Co-Founder, Co-CEO
Project Rockit

Mimi Ito

Cultural Anthropologist, Professor in Residence

Antigone Davis

Director, Global Head of Safety

Dan Caprio

Co-founder and Executive Chairman
The Providence Group


Breakout Session: Is Being Online Time Well Spent?
Plenary Panel - The Future of Online Safety Policy
Breakout Session: What is the Research Telling Us?
Family Toolbox in a Digital Age
Breakout Session: Parenting in the Digital Age- Live recording of “Their Own Devices”
Breakout Session: Shining a Light on the Dark Corners of the Web
Breakout Session: New Adventures in Online Safety and Technologies
Breakout Session: Kids, COPPA, & Keeping Things Private Online
Fireside Chat - The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week
Networking Break
Breakout Session: It’s Play Time!
Closing Remarks
Keynote - Commissioner Christine Wilson, Federal Trade Commission
Networking Break
PROJECT ROCKIT Presentation: The Young and the Restless: Youth-driven Change to Tackle (Cyber)Bullying
Fireside Chat - Josh Sherman and Stephen Balkam
Plenary Panel - Online Safety in an AI World
Whitepaper Launch: Online Safety in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Lunch, Exhibits & Networking
Registration, Breakfast & Exhibits



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