Commonwealth Bank, AFP to combat online bullying

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has joined the Australian Federal Police's ThinkUKnow program to tackle online bullying.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has joined forces with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), as well as Datacom and Microsoft, as part of a three-year sponsorship agreement to tackle online bullying through the ThinkUKnow online safety program.

As a partner of the program, the Commonwealth Bank will provide volunteers to deliver online safety sessions across the country.

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Commonwealth Bank chief information officer David Whiteing said the company's participation in the program reflects its eagerness to be involved with anything that has a technology element.

"We see how digital technology is emerging. There is very little in our life today that doesn't involve transacting through technology, whether that's online shopping, booking holidays, or banking. So with that increasing level of commercial and business activity happening, we really believe we need to have communities become proficient in using technology," he said.

So far, 15 CBA staff members have signed up to the program, and have been trained on online safety by the AFP. However, Whiteing said he hopes to see more of the bank's 55,000 staff members volunteer.

"We're actively supporting the program through sponsorship through our security professional providing content. The program is like all volunteer programs we run; it's one that people self-select," he said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft revealed that it has 400 volunteers nationwide -- almost 10 percent of its staff in Australia -- participating in the program, and Datacom said it has 50 volunteers to date.

The ThinkUKnow program, which was initially launched in 2009, focuses on educating parents and teachers through internet safety sessions at schools and other community organisations.

Malabar Public School in Sydney is one of at least 132 schools nationwide that have parents participating in the training sessions. Other partners of the program include all of the state and territory police, and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.

The federal government continues to push ahead with its plans to pass the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014, which was debated in the House of Representatives this week, as part of its continued effort to eliminate online bullying.

Under the Bill, the government hopes to establish a children's eSafety commissioner, which will have the power to force large social media companies that choose to operate in Australia to remove content deemed to be bullying, or face fines of AU$17,000 per day.

The commissioner's office will be set up within the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The federal government announced during the Australian Budget 2014 that it will commit a total of AU$2.4 million to create and run the eSafety commissioner's office for four years.