Netizens celebrate Safer Internet Day

Netizens across the globe are celebrating Safer Internet Day with a range of events geared at making the Internet a safe place to interact.

Netizens celebrate Safer Internet Day

The main attraction of the fourth annual Safer Internet Day is a ‘blogathon‘. This will track from East to West as participants contribute content, starting from Australia and ending in the US.

Key to this will be a series of projects on e-privacy, netiquette, and the power of images, produced by school children around the world from schools that have been paired. More than 200 schools in 29 countries have participated in the projects and four ‘pairs’ will be chosen as winners.

In the UK there is a conference on the theme of ‘Crossing Borders and Dissolving Boundaries’, with speakers from Microsoft and Vodafone, as well as headteachers and charities.

‘The Internet offers tremendous opportunities to all. But many remain unaware of its darker side, from child pornography to sexual grooming online by paedophiles,’ said Commissioner Reding. ‘Today, I am calling upon all decision-makers in the private and in the public sector to help make the Internet a safer place also for the most vulnerable of our society. In today’s digital age learning how to avoid online pitfalls is a valuable life skill that all young people need to know. For this purpose, we need to spread the message about safer internet use among teachers and parents as well as children themselves.’

As part of the event, the European Commission published a study on the effectiveness of content filtering technology for parents and children.

The study, undertaken by Deloitte, looked at 30 content filtering systems that offered support for EU languages, the platforms used by EU, including Windows, Mac and Linux and the technologies used by EU citizens, including browser and IM clients, file-sharing apps, newsgroups and more.

The study fired more than 5,000 instances of unwanted content at the systems to see how they handled different types, including porn, violence, racism, terrorism, misrepresentation forms of content.

The study discovered that many of the filtering systems coped adequately with English language pornographic content but struggled with material outside of this scope. It also showed that even the top performing filters are far from flawless.

The study showed that ‘we identified 12 products which made a wrong filtering decision in less than half the cases and there was one tool that was wrong in only one out of 16. However, when trying to filter less obvious but equally harmful content, expressed in a non-English language on for instance private sites, we found that none of the tools are capable today of adequately filtering this.’

The products used included recognised names such as Symantec and McAfee, but the stronger performers are not so well-known. Easybits Software’s Magic Desktop 2.0 and’s OpteNet Web Filter PC 9.4 outperformed many.

The Safer Internet Day is organised by European Schoolnet, coordinator of Insafe, the European safer internet network.

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