It's 4am and you're a burglar standing in front of two houses. One of them has a burglar alarm box and security light on the wall and the other one doesn't. Which one would you choose?Wouldn’t really matter, would it Jim? The police and justice system response to either would probably be slow, lackadaisical or incompetent. Or all three.
But I digress…
More than three years ago, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, part of the UK police, developed a very simple way for children and young people to stay safe on the internet.Three years is a heck of a long time in technology, Jimbo. Sure your up-to-the-minute solution is still valid?
It doesn't involve any kind of surveillance, blocking or filtering or deploying of hundreds of police officers across the myriad of chat rooms, social networking environments and forums in which children and young people congregate.Because that would be impossible to police, and even this deluded, headline-chasing government isn’t about to give Gamble the manpower to do it…
Well, unless they think there’s a few votes in it for them. And sadly enough, there probably would be.
The CEOP report button was developed so that any user can press it whenever they need advice, help and support about online safety, or to make a report to specially trained officers at CEOP. People are in prison now because children have pressed this button – that's a terrific deterrent.Really?
I hope they are in prison now because they were tried and convicted in a court of law, not simply because someone clicked a web button!
Freudian slip, Jimbo? Is that what you’d like to see happen?
During the course of a year, CEOP handles about 5,000 reports requiring some level of investigation; on average, around four reports a day indicate that a child is at risk or may be at risk of sexual abuse.And how many come to fruition? How many result in someone being charged?
Why not tell us?
The action AOL Bebo has taken should be applauded because it has recognised that something as small and simple as the CEOP report button will have huge implications for the safety of its young users.And here’s the kicker – having got his foot in the door at Bebo, Jimbo is using that as a bully pulpit to harangue the others with ‘You aren’t serious about protecting the chiiiilllldreeeen, you monsters!’:
It has also thrown down a marker for other major social networking sites – Facebook and Myspace, in particular – and Bebo has shown that there are no valid reasons not to do this.So, one company has made a decision to get into bed with you, Jimbo, and that therefore means all the others should line up ready to bend over, does it?
Even if they have their own policies on this, or it might conflict with the law in their incorporating country?
These children are their customers – advertisers are attracted to them specifically because of their presence on those sites.Really?
Because as commenter ‘xerode’ points out, they really shouldn’t be:
“One thing that is never mentioned in articles like this - Facebook/MySpace don't want kids registering and using their sites.Quite…
'Facebook does not knowingly collect or solicit personal information from anyone under the age of 13 or knowingly allow such persons to register. If you are under 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or send any information about yourself to us, including your name, address, telephone number or email address. No one under the age of 13 may provide any personal information to or on Facebook. In the event that we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under the age of 13 without verification of parental consent, we will delete that information as quickly as possible.'
'The MySpace Website is a general audience site and does not knowingly collect PII or Related Data from children under 13 years of age.'
This might be the reason they're hesitant to put the "help buttons" mentioned on their site - because legally (in the US at least), they're not allowed to have minors on there. If they were to start putting buttons aimed at minors on there, is that not an admission that minors are using the site?”
But Jimbo’s ambitions don’t stop with CEOP:
I recognise that the button has potential beyond what's been talked about. Other vulnerable children – those who have run away from home, who are missing or even abducted, are one click away from getting help, getting in touch or contacting sometimes desperate parents.Better not horn in on other fakecharities territory, if you know what’s good for you…
We believe there is no good reason why every social networking site should not have this feature if they claim to have their young users' welfare at heart.Annnnd there’s the moral blackmail out in the open.
If you don’t have the button, why, clearly, you don’t have your ‘young users‘ (you know, the ones you actually warn against using your service) welfare at heart. And you probably eat kittens. Alive.
Jim Gamble, child protection expert extraordinaire. Whatta guy….