News & Views, plus 'NetIDme in the Press'
This year's Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day will promote the organisation's online hotline on which people can report any potentially illegal online content involving children.
The IWF underlined the importance of its Awareness Day today with the release of new research which indicates that over three quarters (77%) of UK adult internet users who have stumbled across images of children being sexually abused are unsure how to report them.
NetIDme's patented age verification system has been accredited by the British Board of Film Classification for its new media download classification scheme.
BBFC.online uses the Board's famous 'black cards’ and category symbols to enable users downloading new media content − video-on-demand and streamed video which is offered to the public through websites, set-top boxes and portable media devices − to judge whether it is suitable for consumption.
NetIDme Chief Executive, Alex Hewitt, said:
“BBFC.online is a revolutionary scheme that enables the application of the same rules in the online world that have been developed over many years to protect people in the real world.
To be one of the first companies to be accredited under the British Board of Film Classification's scheme - and the only one capable of verifying under 18s - is a ringing endorsement of our patented age-verification system, which is currently used by a number of blue chip companies."
The BBC investigates the wide spread issue of cyber-bullying, and highlights the problem of anonymity online.
Cyber-bullying used to involve sending threatening texts or e-mails, but the class of 2008 are finding social networks to be a fertile, and occasionally dangerous breeding ground. It does not take much for a teenager's cyber universe to spin out of control.
A fight at school, an online misunderstanding, and within minutes he or she can become the victim of a cyber-bully campaign, thanks to the fact that millions of children are connected by computers and gadgets. Read the BBC report
Four Norfolk teenagers have gone from bullying victims to inspiring anti-bullying campaigners.
Twins Ria and Ellice Bush, 17, their sister Neola, 14, and friend Harriet Gilford, 15, have launched an innovative project called Just Smile which allows young people being bullied to take the first vital step to getting help.
The group have recently launched their Just Smile boxes. The secured yellow boxes are put on the wall and have a slot in the top into which messages can be put and regularly checked by staff. Seventy five have so far been produced and will be put up in schools across East Anglia - and two will even be going to Scotland and Canada after enquiries to their website.
They have also produced 15,000 leaflets, with the key message “Don't suffer, speak out, just smile.” The girls all said it was crucial to allow bullying victims to express their emotions and speak confidentially and it was often difficult to speak to someone.
Their website www.justsmile.org.uk has a wide range of advice and information.
The BBFC’s classification system is moving to the world of downloadable films, programmes and video games. The BBFC has worked closely with the home entertainment industry to develop the scheme that will bring the benefits of the DVD classification system to the world of downloads and the internet.
The scheme will require e-tailers and VoD services to have age verification or gate-keeping systems in place for parents to monitor and control underage viewing, and the effectiveness of these protocols will be monitored by the BBFC.
NetIDme Ltd chief executive Alex Hewitt welcomed the scheme, commenting: “Increasingly technology is allowing us to apply the same rules in the online world that have been developed over many years to protect our children in the real world.
"In light of this I welcome the BBFC’s new scheme. I am sure all responsible online publishers and distributors of videos will welcome this new system which underlines the importance, once again, of age verification as a key tool in the child protection armoury.”
Labour MP Margaret Moran brings a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons on Friday 16 May for its second reading. The Bill is in response to the increasing number of cases that have exposed the ease with which children under 18 can buy alcohol, adult films and other age-restricted goods and services on the internet.
A recent survey by Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service revealed that an alarming seventy-five percent of online retailers supplied age restricted goods such as knives, alcohol, spray paints and, in one case, even a machete to a child of thirteen years of age.
New teaching resources aimed at helping primary school children surf the web safely have been launched. Figures from regulator Ofcom suggest 500,000 five to seven-year-olds are allowed to go online unsupervised.
Teachers have expressed concern that young children are joining gaming or social networking sites and leaving personal details without realising the risks.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) has devised a cartoon series to warn of the dangers.
"Hector's World" - CEOP's animated series to be shown in schools - features the adventures of Hector the dolphin and his friends as they surf their own "internet ocean". There are five animated adventures in the series, with each addressing an area of internet safety.
Earlier this month the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, announced a consultation to assess the impact of commercialisation upon Britain's children and young people. The consultation is part of the Government’s wider Children’s Plan – a blueprint for our children’s future - launched in December 2007.
The Government is also commissioning an independent review to understand how families can strike the right balance in keeping their children safe, but also allowing them the freedom to learn and develop.
The review will be led by David Buckingham, Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, London University, and founder of the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media. His review will look at how children's engagement with the commercial world has changed, as well as what impact such changes are having.
Childnet International, the UK's National Consumer Council, and Prof. Agnes Nairn have just launched a new report: Fair Game?: Assessing commercial activity on children's favorite Web sites and online environments, which explores how online commercialism affects young people. For the study, they looked at 40 sites popular with young people in the UK aged 7-15 - everything from sites specifically for kids, to search engines, to social-networking and video-sharing sites, to general game and entertainment sites.
THE West Australian Government will spend $400,000 on a five-year study into cyber-bullying, amid growing concern about the damaging effect on children being targeted by abusive text messages, emails and degrading digital photos.
Education Minister Mark McGowan said that up to 15 per cent of WA students were victims of "vicious" cyber-bullying, which was generally anonymous and had potentially dire consequences. Read the full story
Children as young as five would be taught about the dangers of putting their personal details on the internet under plans drawn up by the Conservatives to tackle cyber-crime.
Issues such as privacy, information security, and the risks posed by posting photographs online would all be addressed as part of the compulsory ICT curriculum, which is introduced at Key Stage 1, the Conservatives said.
Read the full proposal at Times Online
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has announced the formation of a task force to address age and identification verification of people on social-networking Web sites. The task force, an outgrowth of an agreement between MySpace.com and 49 state Attorneys General, will focus on whether age verification and other technologies can be used to keep children out of social networking sites and sites aimed at adults, and keep adults out of sites intended for minors only. The task force is scheduled to issue a final report next year.