News – Online Safety

22/01/2021: Concerns grow for children’s health as screen times soar during Covid crisis

The rise in children’s screen time during the pandemic has triggered calls for greater interactivity and outdoor exercise to bolster learning and guard against an epidemic of shortsightedness. Time spent online has increased dramatically in the past year. Millions of pupils have been forced to switch to remote learning, while social media use has skyrocketed, according to Qustodio, which tracks usage of tens of thousands of devices by children aged four to 15 in the UK, US and Spain.

Source: Guardian

22/01/2021: The IWF welcomes new Government strategy to tackle child sexual abuse

The IWF has welcomed the Government’s strategy to tackle child sexual abuse after a record-breaking year sees IWF analysts remove more illegal content from the internet than ever before. Today, the UK Government has published its national strategy to protect children from all forms of child sexual abuse. The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy sets out how the Government will use new legislation and enhanced technology to stop offenders.

Source: Internet Watch Foundation

22/01/2021: Ways Schools Can Celebrate Safer Internet Day Remotely

As a result of the current closures, the UK Safer Internet Centre has put together guidance on how schools can still celebrate Safer Internet Day remotely. They have put together overviews of the exciting resources available, outlining how schools and other settings can still enjoy the day no matter where they are. This is to ensure that we can spread the message about ‘An Internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’ for Safer Internet Day taking place on the 9th February 2021

Source: South West Grid for Learning

14/01/2021: Top tips for online safeguarding during the pandemic

Speaking at the CYP Now Safeguarding Children in the Digital Age 2021 conference), Sarah Gensmantel from safeguarding software company MyConcern shared five top tips for educators who are currently updating school policy to reflect remote learning.

Source: Children and Young People Now

13/01/2021: Safeguarding in the Digital Age: Empower young people to talk about online grooming, conference told

More needs to be done to educate and empower young people to talk about the threat of online grooming, CYP Now’s Safeguarding Children in the Digital Age 2021 conference has heard. Traci Good, founder and chief of the i-vengers online safety project, told attendees of the need to “keep talking” to children to make them aware of the dangers of grooming. According to the NSPCC, “grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them”.

Source: Children and Young People Now

13/01/2021: TikTok to tackle grooming with safeguards for young users

Children on TikTok will face “groundbreaking” new restrictions in an attempt to prevent grooming on the platform, the video-sharing company has announced, with particularly strict new rules for users under 16. The platform, which has a lower age limit of 13, said users under 16 would no longer be able to receive comments from strangers, have their videos used for “duets” or mark their posts as available to be downloaded. Their accounts will default to “private”, which prevents anyone other than friends from viewing their videos.

Source: Guardian

12/01/2021: Safeguarding in the digital age: Protection of children from online harms ‘an unmitigated disaster’

There has been an “unmitigated disaster” in the regulation of child protection in the digital world, Baroness Beeban Kidron, the chair and founder of 5Rights Foundation, told CYP Now’s Safeguarding Children in the Digital Age 2021 conference. Speaking about the systemic problems in the technology sector, Kidron said: “Unless we start to understand how the tech itself is driving the problem and deal with it upstream, in the design and regulation of services, we will always be playing catchup while the kids pay the price.”

Source: Children and Young People Now

12/01/2021: Grave threat’ to children from predatory internet groomers as online child sexual abuse material soars to record levels

Predatory online groomers are a “grave and widespread threat” to children in their bedrooms as new figures reveal the record-breaking scale of child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. A record number of reports of online child sexual abuse have been processed by the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF, the UK charity responsible for finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet, has also seen a dramatic 77% increase in the amount of “self-generated” abuse material as more children, and more criminals, spend longer online in 2020.

Source: Internet Watch Foundation

06/01/2021: Disadvantaged pupils offered free data in bid to tackle digital divide

The Department for Education is partnering with broadband providers to offer disadvantaged families free data to support home learning during the latest Covid-19 lockdown. But education experts and children’s campaigners believe the move does not go far enough to address the digital divide disadvantaged pupils face.

Source: Children and Young People Now

21/12/2020: Facebook child abuse detection hit by new EU rules

Facebook has switched off some of its child abuse detection tools in Europe in response to new rules from the EU. The company said it has had no choice but to do so, since the new privacy directive bans automatic scanning of private messages. The change only applies to messaging services rather than all content uploaded to Facebook. However, there is no change in the UK, where measures are “consistent with applicable laws”, Facebook said.

Source: BBC

15/12/2020: Online harms law to let regulator block apps in UK

UK watchdog Ofcom is set to gain the power to block access to online services that fail to do enough to protect children and other users. The regulator would also be able to fine Facebook and other tech giants billions of pounds, and require them to publish an audit of efforts to tackle posts that are harmful but not illegal. The government is to include the measures in its Online Harms Bill.

Source: BBC

15/12/2020: EU Digital Services Act set to bring in new rules for tech giants

The European Union is set to unveil new rules it says will “overhaul” the digital market, including how tech giants operate. A pair of laws – the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts – will be announced later on Tuesday. They are expected to be the biggest revision in 20 years, focusing on competition and making platforms responsible for hosted content. There are also likely to create heavy fines for violations of the rules.

Source: BBC

15/12/2020: Online harms bill: firms may face multibillion-pound fines for illegal content

Social media companies will need to remove and limit the spread of harmful content or face fines of billions of pounds, the UK government has announced, as it finally reveals the details of its proposed internet regulation. The online harms bill, first proposed by Theresa May’s government in April 2019, sets out strict new guidelines governing removal of illegal content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and media that promotes suicide, which sites must obey or face being blocked in the UK.

Source: Guardian

15/12/2020: How extreme porn has become a gateway drug into child abuse

Michael Sheath has been counselling people with what he describes as “deviant sexual interests” for a long time. “I have been working with men who abuse children for 33 years. For the first 15 years I worked with child molesters and I still do that, but now I also work with downloaders of child abuse imagery and online groomers.”

Source: Guardian

15/12/2020: UK Government Announce New Rules to Online Harms Bill

The UK Government have announced today that there will be new rules introduced with how online tech firms are held accountable towards certain online content. Social media platforms and other firms will now have a duty of care to protect children from online harms and look to remove any illegal content that may be shared from users including child sexual abuse material, terrorist content and suicide material. There will also be more focus on protecting children from harmful content like bullying, grooming and pornography as well with hefty fines given if action is not taken.

Source: South West Grid for Learning

14/12/2020: Tech giants face fines on suicide posts: Social media firms could face huge penalties for failing to tackle content that encourages self-harm

Social media firms such as Facebook and Instagram could face multi-million pound fines under laws to ban content that encourages suicide and self-harm. The Government wants to draw up offences banning the spread of such material, which has been implicated in deaths around the world. Molly Russell, from north-west London, killed herself aged 14 in 2017 after viewing self-harm images on Instagram, leading to her father Ian campaigning for greater protections online.

Source: Daily Mail

08/12/2020: Encrypted messaging puts children at risk, commissioner warns

Encryption of online messages could make it harder to police child abuse and grooming online, the children’s commissioner for England has warned. End-to-end encryption is a privacy feature that makes it impossible for anyone except the sender and recipient to read messages sent online. Commissioner Anne Longfield said it also prevented police from gathering evidence to prosecute child abusers. But digital rights groups see it as an essential part of online privacy.

Source: BBC

07/12/2020: New Educational Resources Launched For Safer Internet Day

Free to download, these engaging resources are tailored for 3-18 year olds and look at the topic of reliability online, and the ways that young people can tell fact from fiction whilst spending time on the internet. The resources have been created to be used by educators across the UK, to help children and young people aged 3-18 learn about online safety issues. The resources are available in English and Welsh.

Source: South West Grid for Learning

05/12/2020: Bullying: Schoolmates ‘told me to die’ in online posts

“I went online to make friends with people who were similar to me, so I could be myself, but when the other kids in school found my profile they made fun out of me.” About one in five children aged 10-15 in England and Wales suffered at least one form of online bullying in the year to March 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Charley Oliver-Holland was 12 when she started getting bullied. She always had friends, but did not really fit in at high school.

Source: BBC

03/12/2020: ‘These images are a crime scene … it’s massive for us to find the child’

The Internet Watch Foundation is seeing a growing number of tipoffs about child abuse. We talk to one analyst about her work. Isobel* has been working throughout lockdown. With her colleagues in the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) analyst room in Cambridge she has been responding to a rising number of tipoffs from the public that child abuse images are circulating online. The work is gruelling.

Source: Guardian

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