Children's charities pressure Blunkett over Net safety

The NSPCC and Carol Vorderman will begin a major crusade this week to get Home Office funding for an Internet safety campaign for children
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

More than 50,000 NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) campaigners will be bombarding the Home Secretary David Blunkett with postcards this week, pressurising the government into sticking to its election manifesto pledge to make Britain the safest place in the world for children to access the Internet.

A coalition of children's charities involved in the Home Office's Internet task force launched a campaign with television presenter Carol Vorderman on Tuesday to educate people in the dangers of the Internet. The NSPCC, which is coordinating the public awareness campaign, has issued all of its 50,000 patrons with postcards addressed to Blunkett that request the government to fund a large-scale campaign promoting Internet safety for children.

"This is not an attack on the government, but we are warning that we have our eyes on them," said Vorderman. "We need to keep up the pressure, and make sure that the government sticks to its election manifesto promise."

The NSPCC recommendations are threefold. In addition to the Home Office being asked to fund a simple campaign, the charity is also proposing the creation of a kite-marking scheme for Internet Service Providers (ISPs). "This would not be run by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), but children's charities -- we don't want the government or industry campaign coordinating it," explained Vorderman. The intention is that parents will think twice about signing up to a service that hasn't been kite-marked.

The campaign is also asking for PC manufacturers and retailers to sell all computers with pre-installed filters such as NetNanny. The concept of widening the net of responsibility to include PC builders was proposed initially at a Home Office cybercrime summit in March. "We're not saying that one single piece of software can resolve the issue, but it will stop some of the problems," said Vorderman.

The campaign is part of the NSPCC's "Full Stop" campaign to end cruelty to children, which was launched in March 1999, and is detailed on its Web site.

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