PITA members address the issue of protecting kids’ online safety in Fiji

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Samoa and Fiji lead the Pacific region regarding potentially harmful internet content, but for opposite reasons. The Samoan Regulator is encouraging Internet Service Providers in Samoa to establish systems to filter child sexual abuse materials and is currently undergoing a six months pilot scheme with the ISPs who have signed on to determine the best way forward and to ascertain legislative measures that need to be made.

On the other hand, according to this article published in the Fiji Times, Fiji leads the Pacific in searches for online pornography, ranking in the top 10 online searchers for adult content worldwide.

This June 2017 editorial from the Fiji Sun newspaper tells us that in May 2017 according to a report released by the Fiji Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, “There were … 21 victims (of rape or sexual assault) … under the age of 18 years.”

These two articles suggest that there is something going on in Fiji that is not conducive to a healthy society. Is there a link between the consumption of online pornography and a high incidence of sexual assaults in Fiji society? We don’t know the answer to that question, but we’re sure that something needs to change if this abuse is to stop.

We congratulate the Samoan Regulator on being proactive in stemming the flow of potentially harmful material available online, and we call upon all Pacific nations to show leadership in this area.

Bypass is a member of the IWF and proudly supports their vision of globally eliminating child sexual abuse imagery online and to make the internet a safer place. Bypass’ customers can have access to the IWF’s list of  blocked websites as a part of their network level parental controls solution Buddy Guard or Regulatory Enforcement products. The list is automatically integrated into our network filtering technology, and provides parents with peace of mind that their children will not be exposed to inappropriate content online.

While we encourage policymakers to take action, we would also say the regions’ telcos should not wait for regulation. We encourage telcos to take a stand today against this horrific crime and implement network-wide blocking of child sexual abuse content.

Telcos missing from Australia Online Safety on the Edge Conference

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We have just returned from the Online Safety conference held in Sydney on Nov 1 – 3. The conference was jointly hosted by the Australian eSafety Commission and NZ’s own Netsafe.

The event was well attended with over 400 delegates and a range of interesting speakers. We shared a table with Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety for Facebook. She explained some of the tools that Facebook is using to help keep people safe online including their processes for taking down image based abuse after it has been posted online. Antigone went on to explain measures that Facebook is employing that allow people to pre-emptively block private images before they are posted onto Facebook. This is a significant step forward in stopping online image based abuse before it occurs.

The majority of delegates were from groups who provided training or support to young people helping them to be safe online or to assist those who had been victimised online.

There was only a small number of representatives from the online or telco industries suggesting a lack of awareness or sense of responsibility for the role we play helping to keep people safe in the online environment we’re creating.

Nearly all the presenters had an upbeat, positive story to tell about their work. The exception was a case study presented by the Child Exploitation Internet Unit of the New South Wales Police Force. This was a “warts & all” case study that took us through the detection, capture & conviction of five Australian child sex offenders  We were able to read the text messages and chats exchanged by the abusers, listen to their recorded phone calls and watch their police interviews. In this case all five offenders were convicted and imprisoned. This was a truly chilling presentation that gave a small insight into the world of child sex offenders and reinforced the value of our work.

This huge issue in the Australian household, & the perfect organisation to really help is the broadband provider. Bypass’ network level parental control – Buddy Guard is designed to help the service provider with a fast deployment model & tools to help with the challenges that families are currently facing in the home. It’s just one way the broadband provider plays a part in the wider ecosystem, with online content players & government to prevent children from harm online.

Controlling Household Screen Addiction

There is still debate over which patterns of Internet use are excessive or addictive, however there is no doubt that the increased amount of time kids spend online is concerning to parents.

The global market for parental control solutions is fragmented. This fragmentation is because traditional solutions have required the home users to download software for each device and keep it up to date. In addition, because parental controls have also been part of a security sub-set, the measures have often been feature rich and too complex for the standard user to operate.

With no clear dominant players and the size of the parental control market predicted to double by 2018, there is an opportunity for a telecommunications provider to take a lead in shaping a positive online experience.

One of the problems are that traditional solutions are activated from software that is activated separately on each device in the home. With the number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops in the home these days it’s become too hard. When the family all used the desktop in the corner of the lounge this wasn’t an issue, but now this is seen as too hard to implement and keep up to date. Some of these solutions are seen as too expensive with high monthly fees or upfront costs, payable per annum based on the number of devices in the home and slow down the online experience when users demand speed and performance.

Parents feel out of control with the pace of change and exponential growth on the internet. They feel like they can’t keep up and that their kids are several steps ahead of them.

Credit: Facebook Parental Controls Review. TopTenReviews.com 30 Statistics about teens and social networking.

Internet use has become so normalised and mobile data is ubiquitous. This makes it difficult for parents to know whether they are too strict or too relaxed about the online behavior of their children.

This is often complicated by their own often heavy use of the internet and the pressure from schools for kids and teens to use online resources. Parents are finding that their kids stay glued to their screens even as they begin to experience major problems in functioning, in ways that are not dissimilar from those dealing with substance abuse and gambling disorders. There is still debate over whether someone can be addicted to the Internet itself, or if the Internet serves as a vehicle for engaging in addictive behavior.

Screen time can become an addiction when it begins to impair life functioning deeply. Some individuals game to the point of dropping out of school or isolating themselves from real-world socialising.

The two biggest concerns we’ve found from our focus group research are inappropriate content and amount of time spent online. While both are important to all parents in families with younger children, the focus is inappropriate content. From middle school age, parents’ concern shifts to the amount of time spent online and what impact this has on other aspects of life.

Social networking seems to be disproportionately problematic for women while males have more problems with gaming and pornography. But what is the threshold for problematic patterns of usage? From a developmental perspective, there is more research to understand how specific types and patterns of Internet usage at different ages and how this leads to potential problems.

While the mental health community has started to see an uptick in complaints about screen addiction, we do not have set guidelines to screen for it.

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that we have pushed technology into our schools. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but moderation has become a hard balance when technology is a necessary part of children’s upbringing.

As our kids have become more isolated and detached as technology pervades their lives from waking to sleeping or staying up all night gaming, the telecommunications provider can help. Buddy Guard is designed to be a part of an educational campaign to enable parents to find ways to help children and teenagers maintain a healthy digital diet, without the helicopter-parenting effect.

The goal of Buddy Guard parental controls is to achieve moderation, not abstinence. Outcomes are different depending on each family. To establish healthy practices from the beginning, we work with the telecommunications provider to develop parenting guidelines for regulating technology at every age of childhood.

Our approach using our world’s first transparent DNS software is game changing, reducing the total cost of ownership by millions of dollars and allowing the telecommunications provider a choice in the commercial model. This is due to a much lower infrastructure cost which minimises the cost of deployment and significantly reduces the on-going capital requirements to maintain performance as data volumes grow exponentially.

Buddy Guard is also designed to reduce the cost of compliance from regulation. At the same time as user side demand occurs, regulatory pressure on the telecommunication sector increases globally. This is due to national security concerns and media lobbying in Australia and New Zealand, and social behaviour norms in India and Indonesia telco’s. These costs are grossing, increasing the cost of compliance for telecommunications providers, a cost Buddy Guard will significantly reduce especially if your compliance model is proxy or DPI based.

Parents must discuss online activity with their children to better ensure their safety and security offline. Buddy Guard Parental Controls can be enabled by the telecommunications provider to address these issues.

It pays to be disruptive; value added services enhance ISP growth

In a recent research report leading telecoms vendor Ericsson in collaboration with consultancy firm Ernst & Young ask the question; What Makes a Successful Telco Business strategy? The study released last week clearly outlines the strategies “frontrunners” are taking in the telco space.

The study found that front-runners, those ISP’s who have rapidly growing market share in their respective regions were most likely to be ranked around third by market position.

Frontrunners are identified by using three sets of criteria:

  1.     Achieving a healthy annual revenue growth
  2.     Maturity in respect to capturing business through a higher proportion of non-voice revenue
  3.     Remaining profitable through positive EBITDA

CAGR of total revenue per group

The study shows that over the course of four years between 2010-2014, these front runners were outperforming their competitors by a margin of 6.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). That’s pretty significant!

With mobile data use on the rise, as well as traditional revenues coming under pressure, what were the types of strategies being used to produce such outstanding results?

Ericsson found that there were three strategies used by telco providers to improve growth above the market average;

  1. Offering-led transformation: Which refers to operators that differentiate by being first to market with uniquely designed offerings.
  2. Quality-led progression: Where operators differentiate through high-performing networks and high brand preference.
  3. Market-led adaptation: Includes those operators that differentiate through quick adaptation to market conditions.

Frontrunner strategies

During the period of the research, there has been a significant shift in the strategic approach frontrunners are taking. In 2012, the majority of telco’s were leveraging their size and assets to deliver superior quality and thereby achieve profitable growth. With time, we have seen that operators applying other types of strategies are also emerging as frontrunners, indicating that profitable growth can be achieved more effectively by offering consumers additional value.

Frontrunners are outpacing the market by using value-added services that differentiate them from the rest of the market. There is also a strong focus on garnering new revenue streams instead of trying to maximise old ones by voice and by challenging industry conventions to make connectivity more relevant to people, business and society.

Offering led transformation

Bypass is a Value Added Service provider for ISP’s; we provide products for ISP’s that lead to offering led transformation. We have seen our key customers win awards and grow much faster than the market average.

BNSL develops white-label products for ISP’s. We have been in successful in offering Global Mode & Buddy Guard as a point of differentiation for ISP’s which allow them to be first to market with a unique product set. Our operational model has further accelerated demand as, unlike traditional capital-intensive commercial models our products are payable monthly, based on usage.

By shifting a traditional technology cost centre into a marketing profit centre, we deliver valued added products that create value in the mind of the customer. We’ve seen our ISP’s grow exponentially. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we can improve your APRU and profitability using an Offering-led transformation strategy.

The full report can be found here!

BNSL launches Buddy Guard

buddy guard, childproof, internet safety, keeping kids safe online, kid safe, kid friendly

A wide-open Internet is unsafe for children. Pornography and other adult content is available with ease to curious young minds, and often appears without any explicit action on the part of the child. Social media websites can be distracting and kids are spending more and more time playing games online.

Buddy Guard is a white-label managed service for ISP’s which helps residential customers protect their kids online. The solution is pay as you go and offers the ISP over 60% margin with no upfront capital investment. It works by stopping kids from seeing inappropriate websites from their broadband connection based on time period & category. Because it sees all DNS queries, it is impossible to workaround.

Buddy Guard enables your customer to block inappropriate websites, based on a time period and category. It provides end users the option to customise filters or select preprogrammed filters – like blocking social media and gaming sites, which commonly distract children during homework time.

Offer consumers the choice to stop their teens sending them to the Copyright Tribunal with a simple UI in the ISP portal. – The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 is proven ineffective at stopping piracy.