Noteworthy: The Internet Safety Technical Task Force

Folks who have been following the online safety debates know that the Attorneys General and MySpace agreed to work together and with other relevant social actors to develop a Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety. Not surprisingly, they wanted a “neutral” party to lead this endeavor. Guess what? John Palfrey (executive director of the Berkman Center), Dena Sacco (former federal prosecutor in child exploitation cases) and I (the lovable author here) have agreed to co-direct the “Internet Safety Technical Task Force.” Our mandate is to develop recommendations for approaching online safety. The Task Force will bring together a variety of different organizations with different stakes to work out the best approach. Some of the tech companies involved include: MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, Bebo, AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, Linden Lab, Loopt, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. The Task Force also includes the Attorneys General, organizations dedicated to online safety or children’s safety, and various vendors.

apophenia: The Internet Safety Technical Task Force

Considering this is something a few of us have been trying to put together in a snail-like pace, it’s great to see such influential people getting the job done.

I love to see people with strength tackle these things– but I also like to see voices from people within the industry.  So often the people talking about online safety are not necessarily the people working the front lines day in and day out.   What about the folks who see the problems and have to deal hands on with the issues– not as lofty goals, but as customer service & best for all parties & protecting the audience within the game. 

I was at the California Safety Summit this week, albeit not in entirety.  I was a little disappointed that a conference based around internet-existence didn’t have internet available in the conference room.  Strange.  Plus– with all these resources on the panels, I would have LOVED the chance to ask questions. 

Most panels kinda just skimmed by the meaty parts of discussion.  Kind of alluding to problems, without actually getting elbow-deep into them. 

Larry Magid, from Connectsafely.org was there with a panel of kids & internet-specific reports.  They were AMAZING.  The tween/teen angels (kids who spoken on the panel) were eloquent & knowledgable.  Although, I have to say, I approached a few during the intermission and asked them what they’re favorite virtual worlds were– they just blinked at me.  They’re myspace specific.  Strange.  I should have asked them what they thought about places like youtube– because that mighty eye of mordor stays fixated (and in some cases, rightly so) on facebook/myspace/bebo (and after reading the forums at BlogSafely, I understand why.  But– that youtube privacy is coming soon like a tidal wave of insanity, I assure you.

There was a woman (Jane Horvath) who represented Google on the second panel Emerging Technology and Our New World.  I was itching & antsy to ask about Google’s safety with youth considering most of the conversations surrounded person privacy & risk (Metlife & World Privacy Forum were the other two panelists).  Google barely said anything other than “we’re trying new things”.  Again– I wanted to ask about how they’re ensuring gmail using youth are in fact OLD enough to use such things as flickr (phones) & dodgeball (social real world tracking via gps on phones), because as is– they don’t double check, and I’ve logged into both programs with a U13 identity.  Boo. 

I wish I could have stayed longer because I was eager to see Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media talk about Education & Raising kids online.  I saw him speak at UCLA a few months back for a Common Sense Media conference – he had a very interesting panel then. 

But again, it’s VERY rare that you actually see the people who are wholly responsible for the well-being of site-users speak.  I’m pumped for SXSW this weekend.  Jennifer Pluckett from Disney is speaking on a panel, and she’s the Senior Community Manager from Disney (Pirates Online, and such).  I adore the ground she walks on– so you better believe I’ll be in that audience.

I do believe– if you want to get to the heart of what kids are REALLY doing online– talk to a community manager.  Kids say a whole lot– they’ll tell you everything they think you want to hear… and most of the time its directly opposite of what they’re actually doing online, and how the community reacts to it on the back end.

Can you tell I’m getting antsy to work with kids again?  It’s been a couple months now since I’ve done actual moderating and I’m truly missing that aspect of the job.  Good thing I love 6DG, and look forward to the unique audience we’re going to collect.  Woot.  Oh, Stealth, is so secretive & fun.

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  1. prosafetyspeaker
    March 6, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Its Glen from http://www.self-defense-advisor.com. What I have found is it is difficult to get anyone interested in child safety until AFTER the fact. Its unfortunate that many give lip service to child safety. I do agree that kids aren’t always honest with what they are doing online. I think many kids that get into trouble online are often ignorant of the world and how dangerous it can be. What they think is innocent fun, could end up being much more.

  2. Pam Portin
    March 7, 2008 at 2:11 am

    I also attended the conference. I was very disapointed in Nancy Willard. What a horrible speaker and person to keep attacking ikeepsafe. I was SHOCKED!!!

    On the other hand, I was very impressed with Denny Shaw from i-SAFE. (www.isafe.org) I started to use the resources after the conference. By far – best in the internet safety business. It is to bad more people do not know about i-SAFE.

  3. March 7, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Izzy, I was hoping to fly to the summit, but attended last year and it sounds like many of the same panelists were there…Last year I was frustrated by the ‘heavy-handed law enforcement’ scare tactics vs. the more pragmatic tween/teen REAL life concerns and moderation/chat/cyberbullying & imposter profile issues that we both well know are the biggies.

    I’m disappointed that MySpaceTV is airing this generic/neutral ‘safety’ spot which seems like lipservice rather than tactics & tips that parents/kids can glean info from…as it smacks of ‘throw a bone to the safety watchdogs’ and throw the responsibility back into parental laps to hover and hand-hold vs. train w/best practices in media literacy.

    http://www.adgabber.com/video/video/show?id=546804%3AVideo%3A84305

    Also wondering why they didn’t go with connectsafely.org which to me seems MUCH more ‘hands-on’ in terms of solving and seeing the issues from kids firsthand.

    That said, agree with you that danah boyd and the internet safety task force a la Berkman are a stellar fit, so I’m looking forward to the outcomes there too…

    Sure hope they take broad brushstrokes to include virtual worlds and MOBILE devices (go beyond social media) because if not, it seems like backdraft to me on the ‘internet safety’ front.

    Want to do an interview with me on Shaping Youth when my e-mail/tech traumas subside? (hopefully I’ll be back online w/it this weekend; techies are working on ALL three systems now.)

    ttys, I hope, Amy

  4. March 7, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    p.s. I should add that I’d love to hear an objective ‘who specializes in what’ breakdown of all the safety sites, as it sounds like they’re vying for attention rather than collaborating with the common purpose of keeping kids safe overall…That seems contra-intuitive and fiefdom-driven to me…which as you know, makes me nuts in the ‘open source’ arena of information sharing!!! –Amy

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