Ninemsn, NetAlert announce Internet cleanup partnership

Australia's highest-trafficked Web site, ninemsn, today announced a partnership with the Internet education and safety advisory body, NetAlert, to address online child safety issues. The move follows the completion of a joint study that revealed 47 percent of Australian parents think the Internet is "unsafe" for their children.

Australia's highest-trafficked Web site, ninemsn, today announced a partnership with the Internet education and safety advisory body, NetAlert, to address online child safety issues. The move follows the completion of a joint study that revealed 47 percent of Australian parents think the Internet is "unsafe" for their children.

In a statement issued today the companies said they have formed a "Corporate Community Partnership to work together to promote a safer online environment for Australian families" and as such will develop a co-branded Web site on the ninemsn portal to provide "Internet safety and child protection information".

The survey, of a random selection of 925 parents on the ninemsn Web site this month indicated that the top Internet concern for Australian parents is the "fear that their children will be exposed to pornography or will be approached by strangers online", stated the release.

However, these concerns are not turning parents "anti-Internet", the companies stated, as parents reported that their own lack of understanding about the medium is largely the cause of their concerns.

The survey also found that parents "see a need for improved information so they can better monitor their kids' time online" the release stated.

Other key findings of the report show that 20 percent of responding parents believe their child has been "approached by a stranger online"; 86 percent of parents felt they needed more education about the Internet to help protect their children; while 90 percent of the respondents rated the Internet as a "valuable education and communication tool for children".

Chief executive officer of ninemsn, Martin Hoffman, said its "vital that the Internet... remains a safe, enjoyable environment and is not undermined by those who seek to exploit it".

"NetAlert is a fantastic resource on Internet safety and this partnership is a real step forward in enabling us to share its wealth of information with visitors to ninemsn - who make up three quarters of all Australians online," he said.

NetAlert recently launched its "Cybersafe schools project", which included the distribution of a "Teacher's guide to Internet safety", according to the company's chair Karyn Hart, adding she hopes the new partnership will be a "valuable boost to this important work."

Ninemsn said it has also worked towards creating a safer online environment for children by closing its Australian chatrooms late last year.

According to the company's release, the partnership is valued at AU$600,000 for the next two years.

The joint Web site is scheduled for launch in early October this year.

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