Online risk and safety in the digital economy
In June 2007, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) was directed by the then Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts to investigate international developments and measures to protect consumers, including children, from the risks they may encounter when accessing and using online services.
The ACMA was required to report annually to the Minister for three years on its findings. This report is the third and final report in the series. It draws on published research and information from both Australian and international sources to assist in informing the development of online risk responses.
Since the reporting series was commenced by the ACMA, measures developed for the management of online risk have evolved in response to the challenges posed by increased participation in the digital economy. The digital economy captures the changes to individuals’ social and financial interactions emerging from the increasing take-up and usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs), together with the availability of fixed and mobile broadband networks. Realising the social and financial benefits of the digital economy is unquestionably an important priority for all countries.
Measures discussed in this report that have been developed to address online risk include responses to two key trends that have resulted from greater participation in the online environment. These are:
1. Emerging mobile internet access platforms and the increased functionality of mobile
2. Increased use of social media and online transactions across all ages.
Key measures include digital literacy programs, parental control tool options, user and regulatory measures to address privacy concerns regarding the sharing of personal information via social media, and industry initiatives which provide information and advice to schools. These measures are illustrated by the examination of a number of initiatives, including:
> The Japan Safer Internet Program, where the government has set out a framework for the mobile internet of minimum standards for industry, and within which industry is encouraged to assist users to manage online risk through parental controls and adult media literacy programs.
> The Teachtoday portal, an industry-led response to concerns about cyberbullying of children and teachers.
> Social networking provider Facebook’s response to its own stakeholder base—the users themselves—about protection of personal information, and Facebook’s response to an investigation of its practice in protecting its user’s personal information by the Canadian Office of the Privacy Commissioner.