Tag: Politicians

The new UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

I’ve got real concerns about this (see the bottom of the post). According to this news release it will:

• establish a comprehensive public information and awareness and child internet safety campaign across Government and industry including a ‘one-stop shop’ on child internet safety;

• provide specific measures to support vulnerable children and young people, such as taking down illegal internet sites that promote harmful behaviour;

• promote responsible advertising to children online; and

• establish voluntary codes of practice for user-generated content sites, making such sites commit to take down inappropriate content within a given time.

This is what Tanya Byron thinks:

“Every parent will know that know that video games and the internet are a part of childhood like never before. This is extremely positive; giving kids the opportunities to learn to have fun and communicate in ways that previous generations could only dream of. But it can also present a huge challenge to parents and other adults involved in the welfare of children.

“That this why we need industry, regulators and parents to work together to protect children against the risks. Setting up UKCISS was a key recommendation in my report and I’m delighted that the Government along with industry, education, law enforcement, and the children’s charities have acted so promptly to make this a reality. “The Council will be a powerful union of some of our key players giving support to parents and guidance to children as they come more and more accustomed to the virtual world – it will also give families, teachers and most importantly children and young people the ability to input experiences and concerns. The UK is a world leader on internet safety for children and I look forward to others adopting this partnership approach.”

I’m worried this organisation will be risk averse, burdened with the pr fear of any internet abuse being laid at it’s door. Already the government has been looking for ways to police the internet.

The country that manages to balance the risk/opportunity that the web represents for young people is the one that will be best placed to enjoy the economic benefits on offer.  Having run a quango once, I know that you don’t create an energetic and imaginative attitude to risk by creating a new quango.

However it is easy to carp.  I think UKCCIS should start with teachers. If we can warm them up to the possibilities that come with an open attitude to the internet, rather than a closed or mistrustful one, we then have a hope of encouraging them to teach children to manage risk rather than run from the slightest suggestion of it.  Until teachers have high levels of digital literacy we’ll struggle to have schools that are anything but freakishly fearful of the web.

Searching Hansard should be part of the citizenship curriculum.

Emma Mulqueeny writes that Hansard is cool:

What is Hansard?

Hansard is the edited verbatim report of proceedings in both Houses. Daily Debates are published on this website the next working day at 8am. Find out more about Hansard

Why is it cool?

Because, as Robert Brook showed on twitter earlier, you can do wonderful searches such as this one: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/search/umbrella on umbrellas. Or on any subject of choice…

What fun!

(Am I a little bit sad?)

My response to her last point is an emphatic no, not in the slightest bit sad. Among the tweets I have marked as a favourite is this one from Lloyd:


Searching Hansard should be part of the citizenship curriculum.

Government websites need pavements

A simple summary from Steven L Clift about key ingredients for government websites if they are to help strengthen democracy:

The typical e-government experience is like walking into a barren room
with a small glass window, a singular experience to the exclusion of
other community members. There is no human face, just a one-way process
of paying your taxes, registering for services, browsing the
information that the government chooses to share, or leaving a private
complaint that is never publicly aired. You have no ability to speak
with a person next to you much less address your fellow citizen
browsers as a group. As I’ve said for years, it is ironic that the best
government web-sites are those that collect your taxes, while those
that give you a say on how your taxes are spent are the worst or simply
do not exist.

In summary he says websites should be like streets with places to meet and talk. I suppose Steven means government sites should be social objects in their own right.

Is the British Government planning a new department of Digital Cleaners?

According to the FT the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, thinks he may be able to not just control product placement in TV programmes but also on the web!. To quote from Neville Hobson’s blog post (nice spot Neville)

Andy Burnham, culture secretary, said the government had an economic interest in protecting standards in UK broadcasting because they were “part of Britain’s brand when it comes to world markets”.

No worries, you might think, there’s always the internet. But they’ve got that covered, too:

[…] And in comments that may alarm the digital media industry, he suggested that the government should have a role in ensuring the same standards were met on the internet as on television and radio.

“If a clip on YouTube gets a million hits, it is akin to broadcasting and it doesn’t seem to me to be too difficult to have an alert on that clip, an alert for violence or for sex,” Mr Burnham said.

Oh dear. Someone somewhere is confused.

So what are they gonna do? Count every time every online video is watched? Which ones – the ones made in the UK, uploaded to the UK, available in the UK? Just the ones on Youtube?

Civil Surf - the UK Governments Digital Cleaners With BordersThen what? When a video reaches a certain popularity a crack team of digital nano cleaners (perhaps we could call them Civil Surf) will swoop into the interwebs and pixelate out any potentially placed product – or maybe re-arrange the ones and noughts so they look like Andy Burnham?

Or they could ban British production companies from putting products in video which may appear on the web – and in the process kill one of this countries fastest growing wealth creating industries.

Overall a sad, sad, idea.

Perhaps it does reveal how government is already thinking about ways in which it should/could control the internet when it no longer is able to regulate the media through the current mechanism of owning the bandwidth.

Update: Sunday 15th. Here’s a link to the speech itself: Some quotes:

With so much of the online world untrusted, I feel we should preserve standards of accuracy, impartiality and trustworthiness, rather than dismantle them. People still use the internet and TV for different reasons and with different expectations and we mustn’t forget that.


But the penetration of the internet to all of our lives, means that I think that people don’t want it to feel like the wild west. Things some people accept as inevitable in terms of governance, I believe we should question.

Why? Because as, for example, Tanya Byron finds in her report there is a climate of anxiety, as well as opportunity that surrounds new technology.

You do have to stop and think when you read a quote from a nine-year old boy in Tanya’s report about whether we are sufficiently controlling this online world in which our children are roaming. It’s funny but it does make a very important point. He said: “I’m worried I’ll get lost on the internet and find I’ve suddenly got a job in the army or something.”
It made me laugh and I’m glad it made you laugh too but I think it makes an important point.

I think it’s well worth a read. He’s thinking through some important problems – yet the instinct to control rather than educate is the wrong one. It goes back to the simple reality that we should teach our children to cross the road – not prevent them going anywhere near a road.