Chapter 16 New technologies
It is important that Australia maximises opportunities presented by new
and emerging technologies allowing for the evolution of digital economy and
interactive educational opportunities. These technologies are usually
accompanied by protective mechanisms to deal with risks online. Although this Report
has examined behavioural aspects of promoting cyber-safety and reducing
cyber-bullying, new technologies can form part of a multi-faceted solution.
Inspire Foundation emphasised the opportunities provided by
technological advances to impact positively on the lives of young people:
in order to utilise and not diminish this potential, the
approach to addressing issues of cyber safety must be cross-sectoral, multi-faceted
and dynamic, reflecting the complexity of the online environment itself.
BoysTown points out that this provides the opportunity for Australia to
enhance online services, and suggested that:
the Australian Government increase its funding for research
into the use of new communication technologies and online help-seeking amongst
young people to provide an evidence base for the engagement of youth in
relation to health and other issues of concern.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) considers
that ‘the best way for consumers of all ages to safely navigate the online
environment is to be empowered with relevant, reliable and useful cyber-safety
information.’ It proposed that:
Consumers should be provided with the tools to take more
responsibility for their own cyber-safety. ACCAN proposes the development of an
Online Competency Skills Test in Online Security (the Online Security). This
test would help consumers assess how well they understand cyber-safety issues and
could provide details of what steps they can take to better protect themselves
and links to further online security information.
That the Australian Communications and Media Authority
facilitate the development of and promote online self assessment tools to
enable young people, parents/carers and teachers to assess their level of
awareness and understanding of cyber-safety issues.
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has introduced
a number of initiatives such as the Stay Smart Online E-security
education package, E-security Awareness Week and ScamWatch. Another example is SpamMATTERS,
created by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), enhancing
the positive effect of the Spam Act 2003 (Cth).
The American Online Safety and Technology Working 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. Technology is now available to
address issues such as password security:
A survey conducted on over 250,000 user social networking
accounts by BitDefender found that over 75% used the same password for multiple
accounts. This means an attacker may secure a victims password to gain control
of an account by simply enticing them to establish an account at site already
controlled by the attacker.
Participants in the Inquiry suggested many different solutions to
cyber-safety abuses, demonstrating that many technologies are available but
also that they are accompanied in most cases by in-depth cyber-safety policies.
As examples, four of these proposals, drawn from participants in Queensland,
are outlined below.
Family Friendly Filter
From its experience in dealing with schools across Australia, Netbox
Blue saw five cyber-safety threats:
Access to inappropriate web content;
Access to online forums with a risk of predators;
Communication of bullying messages by email, social networking
sites, or text;
The risk of ‘cyber addiction’ to online gambling, or social
networking sites, and
The impacts of the proliferation of social media applications and
other Internet-related activities on learning.
It believes that, for students’ safety on the Internet, four pillars
need to exist before there is any chance of combating these online threats.
Up-to-date policies for all Internet, social networking sites,
and mobile devices inside and outside schools need to be created and
implemented. These must include clear consequences for inappropriate actions,
must be kept up to date and communicated regularly to all stakeholders;
Stakeholders need education about dangers, and on ways of minimising
or dealing with them;
Technological enforcement is necessary, both inside and outside
schools, on all school-owned equipment to help prevent or block any
inappropriate use, and alert appropriate school authorities; and
Regular reviews of attempted policy breaches are necessary to
improve education and manage individual behaviour, with clear consequences for
For a school of 750 students and 100 staff, and depending on the
features adopted, the cost of the Family Friendly Filter would be 6.4 cents per
day per user.
In the second term of 2011, the Queensland Catholic Education Commission
will be trialling throttling bandwidth on school networks when students logon
to specific sites, so that their speeds are slowed to the point that they are
Central monitoring of access
While not as obvious as throttling bandwidth, there are other programs
that can monitor from a central position, in a school library for example, what
sites are being accessed. Thus, when students begin a class at any level in a
school library, they are told that the teacher librarian has the ability to see
which computer each of them is using, for how long, to whom they have sent
emails and what sites they have accessed. When students know that they are being
monitored in this way, it is found that inappropriate access ‘suddenly lessens
Australian Protected Network
Web Management InterActive Technologies is developing systems that build
online communities and relationships essential for success in business. It
noted that, although there are many solutions to cyber-safety issues, these
have little uniformity or longevity. Nor is there a uniform way to contact
parents/carers about the range of available cyber-safety options. To be
effective, measures must be integrated, become accepted, rather than a one-off
It has developed the Australian Protected Network (APN) that would put
control in the hands of parents/carers, allowing them to set limits on sites accessed
by their children. It is a framework which enables users to control and shape
their ‘online view’, by putting in a basic level of protection. Users then
modify the approach according to their needs.
If implemented, the APN would produce a point of contact for each Internet
user in Australia, and information can easily be forwarded to them.
Among its features, APN:
Allows/disallows access to different classes of product or web
site. One selection could be the blocking of all direct external ISP access and
disallowing web access to chat web sites. Another selection might simply block
criminal/fraud activity and online gambling;
Aggregates data from other services that provide information on
compromised equipment and prevents access to that equipment; and
Seeks out compromised equipment and as far as possible attempts
to inform owners of their problems, as well as providing links to possible
solution providers, i.e. anti-virus solutions or patches for their operating
The safety and security of user information is maintained at all times.
Users have full access to all data they supply into the system and are able to
maintain or remove their information at any time. Under no circumstances is
identifiable information collected or used without the full acknowledgement of
the user. This means that proxy server access logs are not used as part of
normal system operations at any time.
There has been a lot of comment that there is no point in implementing
safety measure because young people can get around them. Netbox Blue reaffirmed,
it is important for people to realise that technology can be
designed and deployed to make it incredibly difficult for kids to get around it
and that that technology does exist. The public and organisations like schools
need to be educated that there are solutions which can prevent the problem
occurring and which, alongside adequate education, are a really critical part
of the solution and that they should not give up because somebody tells them,
‘Look, the kids will always get around it,’ because that is just not true.
Netbox Blue’s Chairman also made the point that:
There are ways of accessing content on the web that most
school children know that the IT managers in the schools are blissfully unaware
Internode added that when children can get around clever technology,
they do not need it any longer.
The Committee received a wealth of information from international and
Australian companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo!7, ninemsn, Microsoft and
Internode outlining new technological advances and importantly the accompanying
cyber-safety initiatives. As there is an enormous amount of information on
cyber-safety available, the lack of implementation of adequate protective measures
may in part reflect the fact that users are overwhelmed.
Evidence to this Inquiry has also identified a number of areas where the
cooperation of these companies could make an enormous difference to
cyber-safety in Australia. While it is appreciated that these companies tend to
be outside Australia’s jurisdiction, most have demonstrated a willingness to
assist law enforcement offices and product users.
In 2010, Telstra, Optus and Primus, agreed to introduce voluntary
filtering of child abuse URLs and this covers 70
percent of internet users in Australia. Work is also underway to obtain similar
agreements with other ISPs. Internationally, filtering is done on a voluntary
basis and Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy was
not aware of mandatory filtering in any country.
The Internet Industry Association referred to the Family Friendly ISP
scheme which accredits ISPs that comply with best practice and under the
present industry codes they are required to make filters available.
Additionally, there are many free filtering options, and between 40 and
50 percent of parents/carers already use some type of filtering.
There are also relatively inexpensive filters available commercially.
My Mobile Watchdog enables parents to monitor their child’s mobile
phone. Device Connections
provided the following data based on the recent ACMA Communications Report 2007/2008
which found that:
Australian family households with young people aged eight to
17 were generally technology rich. Most families had three or more televisions
and three or more mobile phones. Almost every household had a computer, DVD
player and access to the internet. Parents reported just over half of children
(54%) had their own mobile phone.
Device Connections reported that:
99 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys aged 15-17 years own
81 percent of girls and 70 percent of boys aged 12-14 years own mobiles;
22 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys aged 8-11 years own
Further, Device Connections stated that:
Girls spent an average of 23 minutes per day on mobiles (seven
minutes talking, 14 minutes texting, one minute TV and one minute ‘other’); and
Boys spend an average of 13 minutes per day on mobiles (four minutes
talking and nine minutes texting).
Young people primarily used their mobiles to contact family (60 percent),
and 36 percent used them primarily to contact friends.
The system developed by Device Connections can also assist with law
enforcement investigations, as it can produce reports that meet evidential
requirements in terms of pictures, communication that has occurred, etc.
Device Connections would like to see this option made available at the
point of sale for all mobiles purchased on behalf of young people:
we have had discussions with the various telecommunications
carriers because we could deploy our solution and make it available for every
parent for every phone; at the point of purchase they would have a potential
It added that:
We would love to see coordinated engagement with the
telecommunication carriers to assist in, obviously, their being able to provide
a solution across the country so that every mobile phone, whether it was
prepaid or post paid, a bit like, ‘Do you want fries with that?’; if it is for
your child, ‘Would you like some form of monitoring? It is $4 or $5 or $10’, or
whatever the amount is. So, some coordination with the telco carriers and then,
based on that, obviously there are all of the ISPs, the internet and education.
That coordinated approach that Mr Fison spoke about would certainly add to
this, but you cannot ignore the telco carriers and the role that they can play
in providing a coordinated national response, because they are the ones
providing, in a lot of instances, the data that is driving access to the
There are already a number of cyber-safety initiatives released by the
so they are fully aware that they are putting the device in
the child’s hand today, but at the same time they have a social responsibility
to assist parents managing the misuse of those particular devices. Secondly,
they would rather have the device operating in a safe way than the parent
turning it off and throwing it in the cupboard, because then there is zero data
being used. All of the transactions that occur, there is messaging, there is
plenty of traffic.
Mr James Collins added that:
having run an ISP and been in that situation, it is a lot
nicer to run an ISP which has no problems. That is what they really want to
have. They do not want have faults. They do not want to have helpdesk calls.
When they are fully protected you do not get as many.
Yahoo!7 also call for a cyber-safety booklet to be issued with every
mobile phone purchased by parents for young people so there is an opportunity
to be aware of these issues. Some companies already
The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council suggest that:
Perhaps parents could register a mobile phone as a ‘teen
phone’ and then automatically get some filters attached to the phone plan that
parents have the right to administer.
Introducing such changes would require the cooperation of suppliers.
That the Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety
investigate possible improvements to the information provided to parents at
the point of sale of computers and mobile phones.
BoysTown noted that 70 percent of calls on their help lines were from
mobiles, and that this percentage is increasing.
Accordingly, it requested the Committee to consider:
that negotiations occur with the telecommunication providers
in relation to affordable access to crisis help lines because it was seen by
that committee, after all the evidence that they sifted through, that that was
one of the most effective ways that people, particularly young people, can be
diverted from suicide in Australia.
BoysTown emphasised the importance of mobile phones:
our real concern here is about children and young people who
are contacting us increasingly about mental health concerns, self-injury
concerns and suicide not being able to access our professional counselling
service because of cost issues with mobile phones. This issue really has to be
That the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the
Digital Economy negotiate with mobile phone companies to increase affordable
access to crisis help lines, with a view to ensuring greater accessibility by
young people seeking assistance.
Young people and technology
Professor Karen Vered emphasised the need to consider ‘what young people
are doing with the media and technology and not what the media and technology
are doing to them. Similar, Mr Craig
Whilst technology plays a role in protecting against some of
these things, it is important to remember what technology does not do. It does
not stop a child from posting personal information on their social networking
account. It cannot prevent a child from connecting to a PC that does not have
parental restrictions at an internet cafe. It cannot stop a child innocently
accepting a sexual predator posing as another teenager, as a friend, on
Facebook. It cannot stop a memorial site being desecrated. Technology cannot do
Netbox Blue advised that technological solutions encompassing everything
for a school of 750 students and 100 teachers would cost 6.4 cents per day per
user. For a parent license to
monitor five mobile phones, the cost would be $14.95 per month.
Implementation of the Australian Protective Network costs 0.4 cents per day.
The cost of these protections is not prohibitive.
Further, most companies producing technological solutions already have
educational resources about cyber-safety for young people and parents/carers.