Internet Safety Issues

Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?

This was the plaintive cry of would-be politician Screaming Lord Sutch, and I usually find myself asking the converse of this when it comes to internet safety: why are there so many agencies?

At today's Westminster Forum Conference on Taming the Wild Web, it struck me that there are so many agencies doing similar, and overlapping work, that it's not always easy to choose which one to go to or whose materials to use. So I was pleased to be present at the launch of Safe, a certificated (both for pupils and their school) course in being safe on social networks. Devised in collaboration with Radiowaves, a protected environment for school blogs and podcasts, it is linked to the National Curriculum and looks pretty good -- as far as one can tell from looking at PowerPoint slides! It's for primary only at the moment, but a secondary version is in the offing. I hope to be able to report on this in more depth in the near future.

Returning to the conference, as is almost always the case at such gatherings, the focus was on "cybersex" and related matters. I often feel like a voice in the wilderness saying there are other aspects of online safety as well, such as legal safety (copyright issues and so on), as I suggested in my article about financial literacy.

With this in mind, it was refreshing to hear Robert Bond talk about such matters, and point out the i in online website, which I hadn't come across before, and which deals with personal data protection. Funnily enough, I was saying in a talk I gave last night that data protection is infamous for being one of the most boring topics, whereas it should be one of the most riveting. After all, we all have a personal interest in making sure we, and everyone who handles our data, understands the issues. I look forward to exploring that website in more depth.

I'll be saying more about internet safety in the near future, when I will be giving you some important dates for your diary. But right now, I am in central London, in desperate need of a coffee, and mindful of the fact that if I don't get going soon I will be caught up in the rush hour. I'm afraid that on this occasion I'm going to put my personal comfort first!