A little over a year ago, we posted about the PointSmart.ClickSafe. initiative, which focused on media literacy and online safety. Specifically, I reported on the Online Safety Summit we held last June (as well as interviews with a couple of the participants). At that time, we announced that a coalition of tech companies, child advocacy & parents’ groups, educators, & health researchers would work together to develop a list of best practices.
Today, the members of that coalition were joined by U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) to announce the release of the resulting report of their findings: PointSmart.ClickSafe: Task Force Recommendations for Best Practices for Online Safety and Literacy.
Here is some of the news coverage:
- Tech Firms Report on How to Keep Kids Safe Online
- Google, Verizon, Others in New Child Safety Push
- Online Safety Consortium Backs Education, Coordination
- Businesses Should Provide Online Safety Education, Report Says
There are also reports from the blogosphere, such as Google and Verizon‘s policy blogs, as well as from the Progress & Freedom Foundation. [UPDATE: Also, a post from The Media Institute.] Members of Congress also released statements of support.
In addition, CongressDaily reported that legislation may be coming soon on this issue:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., will soon introduce legislation that would create a competitive grant program for state and local education agencies and non-profit organizations to provide Internet safety education to teachers, schools and parents. The measure, which would authorize up to $175 million over five years, would be administered by the Justice Department in collaboration with the departments of Health and Human Services and Education.
I asked Frank Gallagher, the Director of Education and Media Literacy at Cable in the Classroom, for some thoughts on the issue of online safety. He reports:
Children’s Internet safety is an “ecosystem of shared responsibilities.” It’s an issue that’s bigger than any one group or sector. The Internet industry, government, law enforcement, advocacy organizations, schools, parents, public health — all these stakeholders have vital roles to play but none can, by themselves, ensure child safety.
Yet, too often, in the search for a silver bullet solution, well-meaning organizations within these sectors release recommendations that cover only a single sector (i.e., what law enforcement can do). They are working in silos. What each does is necessary, but not sufficient. A broader approach is necessary.
That’s what makes PointSmart.ClickSafe. different. Growing out of the PSCS Summit last year, this effort began as an attempt to define a set of voluntary Internet safety best practices for the Internet industry. The task force that created this report consists of a diverse group of stakeholders including all aspects of the Internet industry, various internet safety and media literacy organizations, educators, parents, child advocacy groups and public health professionals.
Led by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (i-KeepSafe) and Common Sense Media, in collaboration with Cable in the Classroom and NCTA, the task force worked for a year to create this report and best practice recommendations. The task force began by looking at the whole landscape of child internet safety. It looked at child development, technology options, public health issues, and legal concerns and was informed by the work of the Byron Report and the Home Office recommendations in the UK and the Berkman Center’s report.
The best practices are the heart of the report and lay out what the Internet industry can do to help keep kids safe online. However, the report also recognizes that the Internet industry cannot, by itself, ensure safety and that many other stakeholders must play important roles. To that end, the report also contains recommendations for actions and policies covering other stakeholder groups.
The best practices represent a big step towards a safe and secure Internet experience for children. Combined with the NTIA panel recommendations (when issued), educational efforts in the schools, involvement of public health professionals, law enforcement and government, we can make significant progress towards our goal of protecting kids as they explore the wealth of online opportunities they have for information, self-expression and entertainment.
The report can be found online.