Chapter 15 International Responses to Cyber-Threats
This chapter presents some of the international initiatives of which the
Committee is aware. They are examples of the continuing efforts by governments,
corporations and organisations around the world to safeguard children and young
people more effectively.
Governments and civil society in the United Kingdom have developed numerous
initiatives to address cyber-threats and online bullying.
Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet
The Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet was established in
March 2001 in response to a number of serious cases where British children had
been ‘groomed’ via the internet. Childnet International commented on the Task
a unique collaboration bringing together, in a positive
partnership, representatives from the internet industry, children’s charities,
the main opposition parties, government departments, the police and others who
shared the aim of making the United Kingdom the best and safest place in the
world for children to use the internet.
In 2008, the Task Force released its Good Practice Guidance for the
Providers of Social Networking and Other User Interactive Services. This document
produced practical recommendations for the providers of social networking sites
so they can enhance the safety of those using their services. The Good
Practice Guidance also sought to provide:
industry and others with safety advice;
tips for children and young people; and
guidance for parents/carers to ensure the safety of their young
Childnet International also referred to commitments by the then British Prime
Minister, Gordon Brown, in December 2009 to review periodically the success of
each set of the guidance, arguing that:
These necessary reviews will ensure that parents and young
people are confident that the guidance is being applied and understand how.
This level of accountability is vital in understanding how the best practice
guides are being conformed to and what more needs to be done.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) contributed to
the Foreword and highly commended the Good Practice Guidance document.
Similar documents have also been promoted by industry groups,
such as the British code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of
content on mobiles and the European Commission including Safer Social
Networking Principles for the EU20 and the European Framework on Safer Mobile
Use by Younger Teenagers and Children.
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and ThinkUKnow
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is the United
Kingdom’s national law enforcement agency, focussing on criminal activities
where children are sexually abused. CEOP also operates the ThinkUKnow
website in Britain. It is designed for parents and contains a number of
resources such as tests, information, webcasts and videos. It also explains the
meaning of commonly-used terms in relation to the Internet and provides a
series of measures that can protect children online.
CEOP and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are partners in the Virtual
Global Taskforce (VGT) and it is through this relationship ThinkUKnow was
brought to Australia.
United Kingdom Council for Child Internet Safety
Formed in 2008 by then Prime Minister, the United Kingdom Council for
Child Internet Safety brings together over 140 organisations and individuals to
help young people stay safe on the Internet. It is made up of companies,
government departments and agencies, law enforcement, charities, parent groups,
academic experts and others.
The Council is formed of four working groups: an Education Group, an
Industry Group, a Public Awareness Group and a Video Games group, as well as an
Experts Research Panel.
In 2009, the Council launched the public awareness campaign ‘Click
Clever Click Safe’ initiative to promote Internet safety amongst children and
parents. In March 2010, a review of the strategy concluded that since the
establishment of the Council, the concept of online safety has become embedded
within the public consciousness. Childnet International commented that:
the importance of education is emphasised again as well as
continuing programs to raise awareness of the issues surrounding Internet use.
The positive review of [the Council] serves to emphasize the importance of
effective Government involvement in the debate.
Research by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services
and Skills reveals that the most effective schools in keeping students safe
online and helping them to take responsibility for their own safety have a
multi-layered managed approach, involving students, parents and teachers, where
there are fewer inaccessible sites.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation commented:
If we look towards the United Kingdom, which has perhaps the
most robust cybersafety and cyberbullying education campaign, we can see the
British Home Office have achieved good results in tackling the issue. They have
raised awareness of the issue through multifaceted media campaigns that harness
the power of industry. They have also mandated school policies and procedures
through the Federal Department of Education, embedded targeted resources in the
school curriculum, and run professional development through local education
networks. The UK is also currently looking to reform legislation in relation to
Childnet International is a British-based charity working domestically
and internationally to help make the Internet a great and safe place for young
people, alongside enabling them to use interactive technologies safely and
Childnet focuses on education, awareness and policy. It has worked to
develop the Know IT All range of resources, providing advice on
cyberbullying. These resources were designed to help young people and parents
manage the risks that they may encounter online. Childnet’s initiatives are
discussed more thoroughly in Part 2 of this report.
Online Safety and Technology Working Group
The American government initiated the Online Safety and Technology
Working Group (OSTWG) under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA). This Group was established in 2008 and
comprises representatives from the Internet industry, child safety advocacy
organizations, educational and civil liberties communities, the government, and
law enforcement communities. It presented its report, Youth Safety on a
Living Internet: Report of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, to
the NTIA in June 2010. This report recommended various strategies to promote
online safety for children through education, labelling and parental control of
technology. Broadly, the report recognised that there is no single solution to
keeping children safe online and that all stakeholders (parents, industry,
schools and governments) must work to improve the safety of children on the
Notably, the OSTWG report recommends the creation of a web-based
‘clearing house’ to make online safety research available to the public and
emphasised the vital role of education in reducing young people’s exposure to
The Working Group Subcommittee on Parental Controls and Child Protection
surveyed the available products; trends in consumer demand
and product use; and strategies for improving the utility of current and future
- The marketplace for
parental control products is quite deep and constantly evolving. It functions
effectively for users who understand basic computer security, but the diversity
of options can exacerbate user confusion.
efforts and greater transparency about product features are required. A common
set of terms, agreed upon by the industry, should be developed to this end.
Community reporting and policing on sites that host user-generated content
should also be promoted.
There is a wealth of learning and best practice to draw on from
countries around the world where industry, government, children’s charities and
the law enforcement community have worked together to develop a comprehensive
suite of safety measures.
NetCetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online
In December 2009, the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC),
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Education released a
booklet assisting parents and teachers: NetCetera: Chatting with Kids About
Being Online. The Family Online Safety Institute commended this initiative:
This booklet was a great step to education parents and
teachers about online safety and is a good example of what the Australian
government could be doing to empower parents in this changing media landscape.
NetCetera identifies online risks, including those associated
with texting and mobile phones, and gives parents the tools to begin
discussions with their children about the risks these technologies can bring.
Children’s Agenda for Digital Opportunity
In March 2010, the American FCC also released the Children’s Agenda
for Digital Opportunity, an initiative focussing on ‘four pillars’: digital
access for all children, digital literacy, digital citizenship and digital
safety. A core focus of this initiative is the empowerment of parents and
teachers, as well as greater utilisation of technological solutions to the
problems children face online.
Operated by the FTC, OnGuard Online is a web-based Internet
resource providing a collaboration of resources from various agencies in American
Federal Government as well as leading operators in the technology industry. The
site assists users to guard against internet fraud, secure their computers and
protect personal information.
OnGuard Online also provides tips for parents on how a balance
might be found between granting privacy to their children and monitoring their
activities online to ensure safety.
Centre for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
The Centre for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, a non-government
organisation, provides research and outreach services to address issues
regarding the safe and responsible use of the Internet.
Resources provided by the Centre include:
Online resources for parents including guides to creating
cyber-savvy teens, articles and hardcopy books;
Links to useful websites;
Guides for parents and educators to avoid cyber-threats and
Reports, articles on various topics such as philosophy and
approach of cyber-safety, the filtering software issue.
Wired Safety resources
Wired Safety asserts it is the world’s largest Internet safety,
help and education resource. It collates a wide range of resources and
information for parents, children and teachers on cybercrime, cyber-law and
Wired Kids Inc: a charity dedicated to protecting all Internet
users, especially children, from cybercrime and abuse;
Wiredkids.org: a website to help children help each other
through virtual volunteering;
Cyber Law Enforcement Organization Network of law
enforcement officers specialising in cybercrime investigation, training other
law enforcement officers and assisting cybercrime victims online;
Stop Cyber Bullying: Explains how to prevent cyber
bullying according to the age of the child;
Net bullies: Provides advice for parents, children and
teachers on cyber bullying; and
Teenangels: Groups of 13 to 18 year old volunteers trained
in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security. They run unique programs
in schools to teach responsible and safe internet surfing to other teens and
younger children, parents, and teachers.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a private,
non-profit organisation which aims to prevent the abduction, endangerment and
sexual exploitation of children. Its resources include:
CyberTipline: used to report internet-related child sexual
Netsmartz website: offers online resources, workshops and
offline learning activities available to parents to facilitate discussion with
their children and teens about internet safety; and
NSTeens: a series of online clips advocating online ethics
and proper attitudes to have when gaming, chatting, etc.
The cyber-safety.com website aims to assist parents and educators
about keeping children safe online. The developers of the site also play an
advocacy role, seeking to raise awareness of online threats in the community.
Cybercitizen Awareness Program
The Cybercitizen Awareness Program seeks to educate young people on the
danger and consequences of cyber-crime. The program is designed broadly to
establish a general sense of responsibility and community in an effort to
develop smart, ethical and socially conscious online behaviour in young people.
The Cybersmart! website draws together a range of initiatives,
CyberSmart! Online Workshops facilitate professional
development of teachers and parents and offers participants a hands-on
experience to develop their online skills;
CyberSmart! Student Curriculum is a web-based learning
tool for young people to learn how to use the Internet safely; and
CyberSmart! Educator Toolbar offers users 24 hour/seven
day access to annotated essential resources to support student learning.
Definetheline.ca is an initiative of Professor Shaheen Shariff
and McGill University seeking to provide a portal for greater engagement
between policy-makers, teachers, parents, and youth in user-friendly ways. The
project hopes that engagement of this kind will allow all stakeholders to learn
from each other and share resources.
Generally, definetheline.ca seeks to define digital citizenship
and socially responsible online communications as well as distinguishing
digital citizenships from cyber-bullying.
Internet 101 is a collaborative project between the police forces in the
National Capital region of Canada. The project works with local police officers
to host school-education campaigns and seminars. It also provides online Internet
Netsafe is a non-profit organisation comprising of the Ministry of Education,
the New Zealand police, the Police Youth Education Service, educators from
primary to university levels, the Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand
Customs Service, community organisations, businesses, parents and students, as
well as members of the industry including InternetNZ, Microsoft, IBM and
Netsafe produces a variety of resources including:
Netbasics: a collection of animated movies for children available
- Netsafe Helpline to assist all members of the public with
Hector’s world website: a website targeted for children
and includes discussion points, questions and answers for parents to use with
Online resources specifically for adults and parents: detailed
tips on how to use a public computer, how to behave when posting information on
the Internet and tips for buying or playing online;
Lectures, seminars and workshops on cyber-safety topics are held
at schools, parents’ groups and community organisations;
Fighting text bullying: Netsafe has partnered with Vodafone NZ,
Telecom NZ and New Zealand Police to combat text bullying; and
Online resources explain how to make a complaint to a mobile
Leading international collaborations
The Australian New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA) commented
that ‘the borderless environment the internet creates extends beyond the response
capacity of a single jurisdiction. Establishing and maintaining stakeholder networks
are therefore paramount’. ANZPAA also commented on
the urgent need for international law to ‘effectively facilitate global
co-operation for the investigation of cyber crime offences’.
Various international arrangements exist that are leading to such
frameworks. Some of these are included below.
Virtual Global Taskforce
The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) was launched in 2003 as an
international alliance of law enforcement agencies, bringing together partners
from Australia, America, Britain, Italy, Canada, Interpol, United Arab Emirates
and New Zealand. In December 2009, the AFP officially assumed the position of
Chair of the VGT.
The AFP commented that
this is a significant appointment for the AFP which will
serve to further strengthen Australia’s law enforcement efforts in globally
combating child exploitation online.
The VGT is made up of police forces from around the world working
together to fight online child abuse. Its aim is to build an effective,
international partnership of law enforcement agencies that helps to protect
children from online child abuse. The objectives of the VGT are to make the
internet a safer place, to identify, locate and help children at risk, and to
hold perpetrators appropriately to account.
Council of Europe Convention on Cyber-Crime
The Council of Europe Convention on Cyber-Crime is the first
international treaty on crimes committed via computer networks. Its primary
objective is to pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of
society against cyber crime, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering
The Convention requires its signatories to criminalise certain conduct
and appropriate powers to be available to law enforcement agencies. It also
makes available a range of procedures to facilitate information sharing and
greater multilateral access to information.
The Cybercrime Convention is not limited to European nations and the
Attorney-General’s Department proposed that Australia accede to the Convention.
ANZPAA advised that:
acceding to the Convention would ensure Australia’s laws and
arrangements are consistent with international best practice and improve
Australia’s ability to engage internationally in the fight against cyber-crime.
It would also complement the broader policy agenda in the development of a
national approach to combat cyber-crime.
In April 2011, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recommended that
Australia accede to this Convention. It did, however, express some concerns
regarding the privacy, human rights protections and the judicial review
provisions in the Convention.
United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Commission
In April 2011, the Twentieth Session of the United Nations Crime
Prevention and Criminal Justice Commission was held in Vienna. The prominent
theme for this session was ‘Protecting children in a digital age: the misuse of
technology in the abuse and exploitation of children.’
The Commission focussed on two primary sub-themes:
the nature and scope of the problem of misuse of new technologies
in the abuse and exploitation of children; and
responses to the problem of misuse of new technologies in the
abuse and exploitation of children.
A report from the Commission is yet to be released.
The Australian/European Research Training School
The Australian/European Research Training School on cyberbullying is
evidence of the:
quest for world’s
best practice in developing the next cohort of internationally collaborative
researchers. All current promotion, prevention and intervention work on cyberbullying
is benchmarked to international findings.
An Australian Training School: From Research to policy and practice -
Innovation and sustainability in cyberbullying prevention was successfully
held in Melbourne, Australia, from 11 to 16 April 2010. It was the first
venture to be held jointly between European Collaboration in Science and
Technology, and the Australian Department of Innovation, Industry, and Science
Research. It brought together 30 European and 18 Australian early career researchers
and PhD candidates working in cyberbullying research and related fields.
Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency
The Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA) is a joint
initiative of the Australian and New Zealand Police Ministers and Commissioners
and provides strategic policy advice on cross-jurisdictional policing
initiatives that enhance community safety and security. The cross
jurisdictional nature of cyber-crime requires a coordinated response by all
agencies. ANZPAA facilitates collaboration within policing and the development
of effective relationships with other stakeholders.
ANZPAA runs various forums such as the ANZPAA Child Protection Committee
and the nationally-focussed e-Crime Committee.
ANZPAA Child Protection Committee
The ANZPAA Child Protection Committee (ACPC) is comprised of the Heads
of Child Protection from all policing agencies in Australia and New Zealand. A
primary focus of the ACPC is the protection of children from extreme
cyber-threats. The online environment has seen the proliferation of child
exploitation material, while the popularity and accessibility of social
networking sites has become a rich environment for sexual predators to locate
and groom children.
The ACPC develops partnerships with key stakeholders, including
telecommunication companies, internet service providers and pioneers in the
technological field. The ACPC is engaged in the following initiatives designed
to mitigate cyber-safety threats:
The use of hash set values as a means of identifying previously
seized child exploitation material and to block the further transmission of
these images through technological solutions such as the Global File Registry;
The standardisation of child exploitation material categorisations
and the sharing of hash sets internationally;
Implementation of the Child Exploitation Tracking System and the
Australian National Victim Image Library across all jurisdictions;
The establishment of information sharing practices and national
training packages across the jurisdictions;
The development of national guidelines for evidence presentation
of child exploitation material;
The development of a framework for content service provider
liaison in emergent situations that is agreed and understood by all Australian
law enforcement agencies; and
The development of cooperative relationships with relevant
stakeholders including internet service providers.
In addition to these initiatives, ANZPAA seeks to contribute a ‘holistic
response to cyber-safety through various cross-jurisdictional and multi-agency
Although the fast-paced and evolving nature of the Internet will mean
that the three sectors (government, industry and not-for-profits) will have to
continue working to develop safeguards for newly emerging risks, the Committee
is heartened by the numerous ways in which Australians are working collectively
to ensure the safety of our young people. Further, Australia is working
collaboratively within, and in many cases leading, multi-national bodies to
address these pressing issues.
However, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council called for greater
collaboration to resolve issues of jurisdiction:
Government needs to develop international-Australian
agreements so that international & Australian sites that cause issues for
young people can be forced to remove inappropriate material that constitutes
cyber-bullying, illegal content, content which encourages inappropriate social
or health behaviours or content that can lead to identity theft.