Safer Internet Day marked internationally

Europe's sixth annual Safer Internet Day is being observed also by some in the US, as lawmakers and companies announce an assortment of efforts to make the Web and other digital technologies safer for the young ones.

A study recently conducted by the European Union indicated that across that continent, British parents are the most active in attempting to safeguard kids' online travels, with 77% using filtering software. More productively, 87% say they talk to their kids about what they do online, and an overwhelming percentage keep close to the computer while the kids are online.

Great, but even that success is limited; when British kids were asked if they'd go to their parents for help if they ran into cyber-bullies or other troubling content or interactions, just 24% said they'd do so. And the numbers were even lower across the EU.

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Google's all over it. The company is ramping up its launches of country-specific online safety and security information pages, debuting its New Zealand version this week. The US and Australia already have their own editions, a version of which can be seen here. (Also available from there: a link to news coverage of a January abduction attempt foiled by law-enforcement folk making very canny use of Google Maps's Street View option. Good stuff.)

The company's also been hard at word on the YouTube Safety Center, and as of tomorrow will have a link from the bottom of every YouTube viewing page to that resource, which will include advice and helpful phone numbers local to each country.

In the US, that means such organizations as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Anti-Defamation League; in Australia and New Zealand, that can lead to government human-rights commissions or such groups as Lifeline Auckland or reachout.com.au. Most of it so far is, ironically, in text form, but videos are being added in as well.

According to some sources, the (ISC)2, the venerable global security-certifications body, is also stepping in to help the cause. The organization (spelled out, the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium) will be offering an online volunteer training program for bridging the communications chasm between IT security professionals and kids. (The ISC2 was not available to clarify or comment on their plans by press time.)

In Europe, schoolchildren in some areas marked the day with assemblies and lectures. (Fun fact: In Germany, Childnet's anti-cyberbullying slogan appears to be "Let's fight it together.") And the European Union announced on Tuesday that signed a deal with various social-network providers to add a "report abuse" button to their pages, to give anyone subjected to one too many 25 Things lists cyber-bullying a simple way to report the behavior to the site's keepers.

The deal, which was signed by 17 sites including MySpace, YouTube and Facebook, includes clauses requiring sites that offer profiles and contact lists to default to the highest privacy setting for information provided by teens. That includes blocking the ability to search that private information.

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