Just updated the family contract for smartphone use aimed at parents, kids and teens.
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Just updated the family contract for smartphone use aimed at parents, kids and teens.
This post first appeared on Forbes.com
The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has entered into a consent decree with Apple regarding alleged charges that Apple allowed children to purchase apps and make in-app purchases on its app store.
The FTC accused Apple of failing to inform parents that there is a 15-minute window when a parent enters a password to purchase an app. Without that knowledge, the commission alleges that children have been able to purchase apps within that period without parental knowledge.
The agreement requires Apple to pay a minimum of $32.5 million in refunds to parents for unauthorized charges, but if requests are below that, the difference will be paid to the FTC. The FTC said it aims to achieve “full consumer redress,” and there is no maximum on what Apple will have to pay, if the claims exceed the $32.5 million.”
At a press conference FTC chair Edith Ramirez added that the FTC is also putting controls on how Apple handles in-app purchases. Apple will be required to obtain “informed consent for charges to consumers.” The order requires Apple to send out an email to potentially affected consumers with information on how to apply for a refund. She said that the basic principal that Apple agreed to will also apply to other companies. Apple, according to the FTC, “also will be required to change its billing practices to ensure that it has obtained express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.”
Just ahead of the press conference, Recode.net published an email from Apple CEO Tim Cook to employees about the settlement. Cook said that Apple is already doing what the settlement calls for and that “ It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy.” Cook said “the 15-minute window had been there since the launch of the App Store in 2008 and was aimed at making the App Store easy to use, but some younger customers discovered that it also allowed them to make in-app purchases without a parent’s approval.”
In response to my question, Ramirez said that ”Apple was aware of this issue since at least March of 2011″ and that “in our view the problem continues.” In response to another reporter, Ramirez said that the agreement goes beyond the earlier settlement and “provides more robust relief.” It also requires Apple to change its practices to assure that there is proper notice given to account holders and parents so that they understand that the 15 minute window is being opened when they give consent.
In a statement, Ramirez called the settlement ““a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply.”
For several years, I’ve been on the board of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The organization, which is based in Alexandria, Va., is best known for helping to reunite missing children with their custodial parents or guardians, but it also strives to protect children from sexual exploitation in both the physical and cyber worlds.
In addition to its national headquarters, NCMEC operates branch offices in a handful of cities across the country and has just opened a Silicon Valley office in Palo Alto. One reason, according to NCMEC spokesperson Stacy Garret, is to be closer to the technology companies that play such an important role in the lives of children and teens. About 95 percent of American teens are online, according to Pew Research, and most are regular users of social media sites and services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. A May 2013 Pew study found that 91 percent of teens had posted a photo of themselves online, up from 79 percent in 2006. More than seven in 10 (71 percent) post their school name, 71 percent also post the city or town where they live, and more than half (53 percent) post their email address. A fifth of teens post their cellphone number — up from only 2 percent in 2006.
None of these activities are necessarily dangerous. Research from the Crimes Against Children Research Center has found that posting of such personal information doesn’t correlate with exploitation nearly as much as such risky behaviors as talking to a stranger online about sex. The good news is that most young people are pretty smart when it comes to protecting themselves from online predators and — based on research from Pew — we also know that most kids also take at least some steps to protect their privacy.
Still, the National Center has plenty of work to do when it comes to protecting kids online. One of the goals of the new office is to work with tech companies to bake child protection into their products from day one. It’s similar to the notion of “privacy by design.” Rather than making safety an afterthought — something the company gets around to after the product has been around for a while — it’s much better if companies think about the possible dangers as they develop their products.
The nonprofit organization I co-direct, ConnectSafely.org, works closely with (and receives financial support from) Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking companies to help them think about safety, security, privacy, appropriate content and social interactions between users, and I’m happy to say that these companies employ professionals who put a lot of thought into these issues.
While my group and other Internet safety organizations can advise these companies on a range of issues such as cyberbullying and encouraging positive online interactions, NCMEC plays a unique role because of its focus on child exploitation and its close ties to law enforcement. NCMEC analysts understand — far more than I do — the extent to which children can be harmed in a variety of ways ranging from the (fortunately fairly rare) cases where children are lured into sex with people they meet online to the far more common problem of online child pornography, Child porn — also referred to as sexual abuse images — is illegal in the United States and most other countries, yet as NCMEC analysts have repeatedly pointed out, there is still a great deal of child porn being produced and distributed online and much of it is coming from the U.S. Many tech firms use Photo DNA to identify such images. The technology, which was developed by Microsoft, is being used to compare a newly found image with a database of known images to both identify a potential child porn image and determine whether it’s an old image or could be a newer picture of a child still in danger.
We also know that there are still cases in which children have been harmed as a result of an online interaction. There are a variety of issues at stake, including the risks that the child takes, the design of the product and the efforts the company makes to provide education to youth, as well as to identify and deter predatory behavior. With NCMEC’s help, it’s my hope and belief that companies will get better at that and children will get even savvier when it comes to avoiding risky behavior.
As part of Safer Internet Day’s One Good Thing campaign, I interviewed Hannah Chung and Aaron Horowitz about Jerry the Bear, a plush talking toy designed to help children with type 1 diabetes manage their condition.
This article first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News
About 11 years ago, the European Commission established Safer Internet Day, an annual event that focuses on making the Internet a better and safer place. It takes place on the second day of the second week of February, which means it falls on Feb. 11 in 2014. Over the years there have been sporadic events in the United States supporting the same goal, but there hasn’t been a lot of coordination in this country.
That’s about to change.
ConnectSafely.org, the nonprofit Internet safety organization that I co-direct, was asked by the European Commission to coordinate Safer Internet Day activities in the United States. With support from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and a variety of government agencies, nonprofit groups and companies, we’re planning an event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, along with local events throughout the country.
This year’s theme is “Let’s create a better Internet together” because the folks in Europe who coordinate events globally realize that improving the online experience for both kids and adults isn’t just about dealing with dangers. It’s also about recognizing and encouraging all of the great ways people use the Internet and mobile technology to make the world a better place.
Here in the United States, we’re doing this by creating a “one good thing” campaign and asking people to go to SaferInternetDay.us to let us know what they are doing or have done. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be as simple as letting us know that you had a conversation about safety at home or school or that you used the Internet to help mobilize people to clean up a local park. It could be a report about something kind you tweeted or how you used your mobile phone’s camera to document a problem that needed to be addressed.
And it doesn’t have to be your good thing — you can tell us about someone else if you want. You can write us a post, send a video or upload a file. If it’s positive, we want to hear about it and share it.
All of the good things will be reported on the site and many will be tweeted or posted to our Facebook page. Selected ones will be featured in a video to be shown at our Capitol Hill event and our YouTube channel.
The reason we’re doing this is because “goodness” can be infectious. We keep hearing about an epidemic of cyberbullying (actually there isn’t one), but we’d much rather be talking about an epidemic of kindness because that’s exactly what is happening right now. Sure, there are some people using the Internet to do mean things, but there are millions of people in the United States and around the world using the Internet and mobile technology to do amazing things to help their communities, schools, nation and the world.
There are plenty of examples of “good things” people are doing. Kevin Curwick, a high school football player from Osseo, Minn., for example, has started a “nice it forward” campaign on Twitter (@OsseoNiceThings), where students just say positive things about other students. The idea, according to Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, is spreading to other cities. “Showing compassion in a public forum sends a message to those who are being targeted that they are not alone and that at least some students at the school are on their side and appreciate who they are and what they do,” Patchin wrote in his blog.
And then there’s Pink Shirt Day in Canada. A ninth-grade boy in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. When two seniors heard the news, they went to a discount store and bought 50 inexpensive pink T-shirts that dozens of students wore to school. What started out as a kind gesture turned into a movement and “Pink Shirt Day” is now celebrated throughout Canada and beyond.
The project doesn’t have to solve a big problem. It could be as nice as just bringing a smile to people’s faces like CaliforniaChristmasLights.com, which helps bring holiday cheer to people in Silicon Valley.
It can even be a commercial enterprise. Christopher Gandin Le used to work for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and now heads up Emotion Technology — a company that focuses on public health and suicide prevention. AbleRoad is a company that connects people with disabilities with accessible places to live. StartSomeGood.com helps social entrepreneurs, change-makers and nonprofits rally their community and raise funds.
I could fill pages with great examples, but I would love to hear more. If you or someone you know is using tech to make the world a better place, send me an email or tell us about it at OneGoodThing.us. We’re especially interested in what young people are doing, but also want to hear about adults who are using their skills and technology to benefit the world.
By Justin W. Patchin
Justin is co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.
There’s no shortage of daily headlines that point to the conclusion that many teens are using technology carelessly and maliciously. Cyberbullying, especially, has been thrust to the forefront of parental concern, often being characterized as occurring at “epidemic” levels. But the reality is that those stories represent only a small part of what most teens are doing in cyberspace.
The truth is that most teens do not mistreat others online. We’ve surveyed nearly 15,000 middle and high school students from throughout the United States over the last decade and, on average, about 13% of those told us that they had cyberbullied others at some point in their lifetime. Our results mirror the consensus of other research as well. We recently reviewed forty-two academic articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals and on average about 15% of teens had cyberbullied others. Taken together, that means that 85% have not! This is good news!
Read the full post at A Platform for Good
SafeKids.com’s Larry Magid is moderating a session on Capitol Hill today (the Rayburn Building) called “Are the Kids Alright? Assessing the Impact of 20 Years of the Internet on America’s Youth” The even is sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus and the Internet Education Foundation.
Since the dawn of the Internet constituents have asked their representatives about the effect technology is having on their children and whether there ought to be something done about it. Yet over the last fifteen years a great deal solid empirical research has been devoted to what effect, if any, the Internet has on young constituents. We’ve asked three of America’s leading experts to explore this question for your office. Please RSVP below.
Date: Friday, November 8, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm. Program begins promptly at 12:00 pm, check-in starts at 11:40 am. (Box lunch will be served)
Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2237
RSVP: RSVPs are appreciated. RSVP@netcaucus.org
Twitter: @NetCaucusAC #NetYouth
Twenty years ago, in response to parental concerns about their kids using the emerging Internet, technology journalist Larry Magid wrote a parental education pamphlet called Child Safety on the Information Highway. The first of its kindChild Safety has since been updated many times over to address the wave after wave of concerns about the impact of the Internet and digital technology on a generation of America’s children.
On Friday join Larry Magid for a luncheon discussion with some of the nation’s leading youth and technology researchers as they present “Are the Kids Alright? Assessing the Impact of 20 Years of the Internet on America’s Youth“. Magid, co-director of ConnectSafely.org, will discuss what he has learned over the past 20 years about whether parental and Congressional concerns about youth Internet usage are founded. Researcher Amanda Lehnart (Pew) and Lisa Jones (UNH) will discuss their research into teens and child use the Internet and its net impact. If your constituents have ever questioned the impact of new Internet technology on their children you should attend this luncheon for answers.
This widely attended educational briefing is hosted by theCongressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee (ICAC), part of a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. Congressional staff and members of the press welcome. The ICAC is a private sector organization comprised of public interest groups, trade associations, non-profits, and corporations. The ICAC takes no positions on legislation or regulation. Rather, it’s a neutral platform where thought leaders debate important technology issues that shape legislative and administration policy in an open forum. We vigilantly adhere to our mission to curate balanced and dynamic debates among Internet stakeholders. Our volunteer board members ensure that we dutifully execute that mission. More information on the ICAC is available at www.netcaucus.org.
Washington, D.C., November 6, 2013–Safer Internet Day, which has been celebrated throughout the world for the last 10 years, is about to get a big boost in the United States.
ConnectSafely.org has been appointed by INSAFE and the European Commission as the US host for the annual celebration, which happens on the second Tuesday of each February (this coming one: Feb. 11, 2014).
A well-established campaign that’s now marked in more than 100 countries, Safer Internet Day gained official recognition in the US in late 2012, when the Department of Homeland Security signed a joint agreement with the European Commission to work together to make the Internet better for youth.
The theme of this coming year’s event is “Let’s create a better Internet together.”
ConnectSafely’s plan is to make the US celebration of Safer Internet Day a highly collaborative project, with supporters from the Internet industry and partners representing a broad array of youth-serving organizations. We are launching a website (www.SaferInternetDay.us), organizing an awareness-raising campaign and planning an event in Washington DC on February 11.
“Our goal is not just to provide safety advice but to recognize all the great things that people of all ages are doing online,” said ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid. “It’s time for policy makers and the media to realize that the vast majority of young people are using social media and mobile technology safely and responsibly.”
“We plan to celebrate all the great things young people are doing to make the Internet a better place – or the world a better place with the help of the Internet,” said co-director Anne Collier, “so we’re asking them to tweet about, talk about it in a short video or podcast, post about it on Facebook or send us an email via SID@ConnectSafely.org. “On February 11, we hope families will talk over dinner about how they’re making the Internet better,” added Collier. “And we’re encouraging parents to listen to and learn from their kids.”
“We are delighted that ConnectSafely will lead the US celebration of Safer Internet Day in February,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOS). “The Day is well established in Europe and elsewhere and it’s time we get behind this effort here in the States.”
Microsoft is the “anchor” supporter with additional support from Google, Facebook, Sprint, Trend Micro and Twitter. The steering committee is made up of the leading non-profits in the Internet safety space, including Committee for Children, Common Sense Media, Family Online Safety Institute, iKeepSafe, Internet Education Foundation, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Cyber Security Alliance.
The announcement is being made today at the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference in Washington DC.
ConnectSafely is a non-profit organization offering research-based resources about online well-being and digital literacy for parents, teens, educators, advocates and policymakers. Find us at ConnectSafely.org, Twitter.com/ConnectSafely and Facebook.com/ConnectSafely.