Guest blog from Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron, Prime Minister, has written a guest blog for Netmums about the changes announced this week to help keep our children safe online.

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Netmums has been a brilliant campaigner for online safety – which is why I wanted to write here about some huge strides that have been made on this issue.

10728748104_f6f17ddd7b_bMost parents I know are worried about what their children see online – and I understand these worries totally. My children are 9, 7 and 3. The way I see it, we are the first generation of parents who not only have to protect our children in the real world, but in the virtual world too. We need to know more about what our 7, 8, 9 year olds are looking at on lap-tops and on their friends’ phones, we have to be vigilant about passwords and screen time and who they’re talking to on social networks – it can feel like an ongoing battle to protect our children’s innocence.

That is why as Prime Minister I have been determined to act on internet safety. I don’t care whether people say it’s a side issue, or that there’s nothing Government can do. My attitude was and is that nothing is more important that protecting our children’s innocence. We should start with what is right – and then ask what is possible, not the other way around. So we’ve worked, we’ve acted, and this week we have two pieces of really good news to report.

Good news 1 is that it’s becoming much easier for parents to protect their children online. So many children were stumbling across pornography because their parents couldn’t work out how to use internet filters – or didn’t even know they existed. So following months of discussions with all the major internet service providers, family-friendly internet filters are being made much easier and more comprehensive. From the new year, whether you set up a broadband account with Talk Talk, BT, Virgin Media or BskyB, that account will come with the settings to install family-friendly filters for the whole home automatically switched on, so if people want to access adult content they have to turn the filters off. What’s more, these service providers have agreed to contact every existing customer by the end of the next year. If adults want to turn off those filters, that will be up to them – but the critical thing is that it will be the parents who can choose to put the filters on and off, not the children. This is huge progress.

online safety

Good news 2 is that we’ve taken unprecedented action to tackle child abuse images online.When we first started looking into this, I was disgusted that people were able to search for child abuse imagery – explicitly – and actually get results for that search. So I set all the big search engines a challenge: to clean up their search results, so that if search terms were entered that were looking for this vile material, they would return no images, videos or pathways to child abuse imagery. At the time some said it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done. But, to give full credit to the internet companies, they have now produced 100,000 terms that will get a clean return.  And that is not just here in the UK – it is being rolled out across 159 countries.

Both these steps are victories for parents everywhere. We still have to be vigilant, it’s still up to parents to protect their children, but through these actions the internet is becoming a safer place for all children – and I’m proud of that.

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What do you think about the changes that have been announced this week? Do your computers have filters set up? Let us know and leave a comment below. Find out more about Internet Safety on Netmums

About The Netmums Blog

The Netmums Blog brings you a behind the scenes look at Netmums, as well as some fabulous guest bloggers and an up to date look at what's new on our Parent Bloggers Network.
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12 Responses to Guest blog from Prime Minister David Cameron

  1. I applaud what the PM has done. As the lead for the Love For Izzy Dix campaign, this is exactly the sort of thing we are lobbying for at the moment – help from the government and internet businesses to keep our young people safe online. We have lost a dear friend to suicide in September, 14 year old Izzy Dix, and online bullying (on top of schoolyard bullying) did nothing but further harm her fragile state of mind, chipping away, a little at a time, until finally there was nothing left.

    I wanted to ask David Cameron a question. Will suicide terms be included in those 100,000 terms? I ask this because of the harsh reality of what I suspect may be the answer to the question ‘How does a teen learn how to take their own life?’ Answer: ‘They Google it’.

    Not only would we like to see no answer appear for someone Googling that search result, but we’d like to see help and assistance information appear instead, pointing to a variety of websites and phone numbers where the person could receive help – The Samaritans, ChildLine, BeatBullying, etc etc.

    I’d really like to find out if this is in the Government’s plans at all. Because perhaps if these were in place already, then Izzy, and others like her, would still be with us.

    Don’t bully. Love instead. #LoveForIzzyDix

    http://www.facebook.com/IzzyDixAntiBullyingMemorialPage
    @IzzyDixMemorial

  2. Two really good moves and an interesting question above. Huge progress, as you say and Congratulations to Netmums for getting the PM on board!

  3. Congratulations to Netmum for being such a campaigner with this and for getting the Minister to confirm his promise. Brilliant, I so hope it works. Really well done.

  4. There is no one size fits all approach to filtering the web. Not adult is not the same as age appropriate.

    The only people who can take responsibility for what their children can and can’t see online is parents; anything mandated by government, and delivered by those who are neither responsible for your children nor responsible for the content you don’t want them to have access to, is going to fall short of being a real solution.

    I agree that existing tools are not great for parents because of complexity, but that and other shortcomings will be resolved by innovation, not by persuading ISPs to provide their own low cost, reduced flexibility versions of the existing tools. Teenagers seeking content they know is out there will have no difficulty in circumventing these filters; all that a blanket style approach does is push those same teenagers towards the dark web, which is exactly where you don’t want them to be.

  5. tracey says:

    if david cameron could help me out of been stuck in a rut id be happy to have is help

  6. I wonder if there could be some clarification on a few aspects surrounding the filter, which on the surface seems like a great idea. Is it true that ‘adult content’ will also include websites and forums related to alcohol, tobacco, and anti-government discussions and information? If this is the case, is it also true that to turn off filters for one you have to turn off filters for all? And what information is kept about people who turn off these filters and by whom?

    • It’s unknown what will be blocked. Legally speaking this is just an agreement between the government and the ISPs and as such there is no central government list of what sites to block and what not. The IWF abuse stuff was already being blocked by ISPs (not just in the UK). The concern (other than the flawed idea that blocking adult content is how to look after kids online, regardless of age) is that some ISPs will over-block considerably, pushing older children to avoid filters or parents to turn them off; and ISPs will tend to over block because they are reacting to a level of uninformed hysteria, rather than a reasoned debate, and they just want the hysteria to no longer be directed at them.

      Sadly this move doesn’t really address the issue of bringing up children to be safe online. An education campaign for parents (e.g. TV etc. advertising, maybe a helpful website etc.) would have been far more productive and not essentially blamed the wrong people. Blaming the ISP for the content being accessed is like blaming the typewriter for writing an abuse letter, or blaming electricity companies for electricity being used to torture someone.

  7. Rachel says:

    I am so pleased this issue is being tackled, it is a real worry for me with all my children but especially my 11 year old daughter who loves spending time on the internet and online games, it is so hard to know they are acting safely so to have measures put in place to help this is a huge step forward. My main concern is monitoring who she is talking to as anyone can pretend to be a child online and this is something I struggle with as it causes constant battles about how much privacy we should allow her but I am determined to keep her safe even if she doesn’t agree.

    • The only way to be sure she is safe in terms of chat and emeets is to limit what sites she can use for chat to those that have monitoring. However at 11 this might not go down well! The alternative is to be at a point where she will talk to you about anything that concerns her about her experiences online – and surreptitious monitoring and confrontation is not likely to help this sort of relationship to develop.

  8. maureen Guthrie says:

    Too little and too late.

  9. maria says:

    Im all for online safety if you can actually afford broadband. Sky have increased their broad band package and i have cancelled my internet. Living costs are too expensive at the moment for me so this pledge makes no difference to me. Im actually using internet on my tiny smart phone that is very slow data runs out very quickley.

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