Hokum watch: Safer Internet Day

Barry Collins
7 Feb 2012

It’s Safer Internet Day! The day on which we’re meant “to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology”, according to the official website. Instead, it seems many companies are using it to peddle irresponsible nonsense. Here’s just a few of those we’ve found – let us know if you find any more on comments below, and we’ll update the blog.


“You may think you’re safe surfing the web but there are any number of internet nasties that can creep up and harm your computer,” warns the video on Virgin Media’s Parental Controls site. “If you have no internet security installed, or just other basic free solutions, viruses and malware can take over.”

Really? Running something such as Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG Free will leave you with a virus-riddled heap of silicon, will it? Even with detection rates that are not much worse than the Trend Micro-supplied software offered by Virgin? That’s scaremongering of the highest order. As our forthcoming Labs on internet security software will prove…


You may recall the ever-fearsome Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently took exception to TalkTalk describing its service as the “UK’s safest broadband”, just because it provides network-level content filtering.

Luckily, TalkTalk found a way around that ban – by adding the word “connection” to the end of that phrase – as we can see from the company’s Facebook page, which is of course promoting Safer Internet Day.

We’ll remind you what the ASA said about TalkTalk’s adverts last month. “Customers could interpret ‘safest’ as referring to a number of features, such as virus protection or protection from hacking, and that HomeSafe only offered a basic range of security features".

A “basic range of security features” or “the UK’s safest broadband connection”? Which sounds more plausible to you?


As we pointed out yesterday, why bother spending taxpayers’ money educating the public about internet safety, when you can knock out a nauseating fifties-style public information video that is so bereft of information and entertainment value, even ITV4 wouldn’t touch it?

Step forward the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) – funded by the taxpayer to the tune of £6.4m per year – with this enormous waste of time and money.

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