Sunday, October 22, 2006

okay...what can we do about cybersafety?

I devote my life to helping people stay safer online and while using wireless and mobile devices. This includes helping kids, preteens and teens do the same and helping parents, siblings and grandparents keep the kids they love safer in cyberspace.

yet, the more I do, the more I have to do. Sometimes I feel like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's apprentice trying to sweep out the raging waters.

This task requires the help and involvedment of many stakeholder groups - parents, extended families ad other caregivers; school administrators, librarians, educators and youth counselors and organizations; legislators, non-profits and governmental agencies; law enforcement, school resource officers and members of the judiciary system; the Internet, mobile technology, gaming and electronic device industries; and the kids, preteens and teens themselves.

In California, the Dept of Consumer Affairs hosted a cybersafety summit sponsored by the Governor of Califorinia. For the first time in the US all major stakeholders were brought together to share our expertise and find ways to collaborate.

It was a welcome change over the sometimes partison conferences, and events designed to promote products or programs of special interest groups.

I had just flown back from Greece where I keynoted a conference sponsored by the EU cybersafety program for Greece. For the first time, we decided to share and license our programs to another group in the field. Our Greek Teenangels program will launch this Fall. And all our educational programs, curricula and materials will be translated and adpated by the group in Greece and delivered on our joint behalf, without charge.

It has been years since we started doing this. WiredSafety is the world's largest and oldest Internet safety group, first starting its work under a prior name in 1995.
Since then, many gorups have been spawned from us and many more have adapted our materials, programs and resources (sometimes even with our permission :-)).

Standing at the podium, where we opened the first panel at the California summit, I looked out over the packed house and saw the other leaders in cybersafety. Marc Klaas, a man I admire greatly, delivered the keynote. The incredible San Francisco DA spoke, along with Chris Kelly (Facebook) and others. Yahoo's Safely team was there, with Catherine Davis, the founder of Yahooligans. So was Google, Microsoft and law enforcement groups galore.

It would have been great to have us all sit down and let us share our thoughts and find ways ot put our egoes behind us and work together. Years ago, there was no one else in the field. A few of us were all there was. I came form cyberlaw and policy, as a privacy and security lawyer. I also used the volunteer approach to get things moving from the grass-roots model. Later our teenangels program became the first (and still only) expert youth training program.

Larry Magid worked from the technology perspective. He used to be a columnist with the LA Times on technology and brought that expertise to the field. He later collaborated with NCMEC and later Anne Collier.

Donna Rice Hughes came at this from the anti-porn perspective, representing the more conservative religious right perspectives. She later branched out into other issues. (Donna wasn't at the event.)

Debbie Mahoney founded the first moms program, soc-um (safeguarding our kids - united mothers), against pedophiles online long before any of us thought about cybersafety, four years before the web was launched.

Now, new groups and experts and wanna-be experts join our ranks daily.

I think it's time to look at what we are doing and find a way to work together. It's time we all join forces and put the kids first. It's time we compete less.

I'm willing. Is anyone else?
it's time...

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