Keeping your and your friend's personal information secret

Click here to find out why it is important not to share either your own personal information online or your friends' personal information. This radio advertisement from the Home Office Task Force on Internet Safety makes it clear how you could be putting yourself or your friends at risk by giving out personal information online to people you don't know.

Childnet's "Chatdanger" website makes major impact.

Following the sentencing of Patrick Green (see Article)
the Chatdanger website has had a real impact and has helped parents and carers understand the safety issues of children using Internet Chat rooms.

In its first 2 weeks the site had over 80,000 hits, which generated hundreds of e-mail inquiries to the Childnet team. A number of these were very serious and Childnet was able to give practical advice to both parents and young people about how to stay safe in Chat rooms.

Childnet's goal of using a high impact negative news story to produce a positive awareness campaign worked well and the website created a phenomenal amount of media interest in Childnet's work. Most major television news stations in the UK featured the Chatdanger website and Childnet was featured in the most of the leading newspapers including The Times. Nigel Williams was featured on a special 15 minute BBC online live interview about Chat with questions from viewers from around the world.

For the recent International Forum of Researchers Young People and the Media conference, Childnet presented a special paper reviewing the effectiveness of Chatdanger and the initial lessons learnt from this project. This paper is now available on Childnet's website - see Childnet Publications.

Childnet is continuing to also challenge companies which host chat services aimed at children to include stronger safety information and link to the Chatdanger site. Already a number of companies are doing so and Childnet is now hoping to develop further offline resources about using the Internet safely.


Public Policy Update              

The Patrick Green case featured on this site sparked not only media attention but also public policy debate. Much of this debate centred on the kind of recommendations which this site makes to government, industry and law enforcement. The parents of the victim in the Green case met with Home Office Minister Charles Clarke MP on Monday 12 February 2021 to tell their story and plead for further action. This meeting was arranged by their MP who has been very active in pressing the Government for further action.

Specific actions to date are:

  • The Government have announced there will be a new National High Tech Crime Squad commencing work in April 2001. This squad will have a brief to look at all serious computer and Internet crime, including use of the net by paedophiles. Childnet continues to press for clarification of whether protecting children online will be a top priority of the squad; and how exactly it will relate to local police forces in dealing with individual cases.
  • The Government have acknowledged that there are concerns about whether current legislation adequately deals with the grooming or enticement of children online before an offline sexual offence is committed (see comments in a speech by Lord Bassam at ) However, the Government are not convinced of the need for a change in the law and have suggested representations should be made to the current comprehensive review of sexual offences, Setting the Boundaries.
  • The Government say that the UK police can undertake some covert operations to catch paedophiles operating online. To date there is only one known example of this. Childnet remain concerned that a fuller review of both legislation and policing methods is necessary to determine whether the widespread US practice of "sting operations" catching paedophiles online before they abuse children offline might be introduced in the UK.
  • The Department for Education and Employment is reviewing its guidelines to schools on the use of pupil e-mail addresses, Internet chat, and other interactive services within the classroom.
  • The Internet Crime Forum sub-group on Chat Services have prepared the final version of their report and submitted it to the main Forum. This is likely to be published in March 2001.
  • A number of leading Internet portals and web site who provide chat services have taken steps to make their services safer. are appointing an inspector to deal with reports of abuse within their chat rooms, and are carrying more warning messages. They have also taken action to remove particular services they feel are inappropriate, and made it more difficult for children to enter adult areas. Excite have posted more warning messages, have issued new advice, are using the chatdanger banners, as are some other services. Childnet, along with other children's charities will be pushing for further action.
There remains a need for a greater commitment by the Government and the Internet Industry to fund internet safety and awareness programs aimed at parents and teachers. There are also too few "chat free" Internet services available.

See Press/Media Area for further information.

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