Business internet security

Facebook and CEOP collaborate on child protection

The Child Exploitation and Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook announced an initiative that gives Facebook users direct access to CEOP’s advice and reporting centre from their Facebook homepage.

The initiative is not based on a standard panic button solution but on a CEOP Facebook App and a CEOP Facebook page. This means that only users who install the app will have direct access to CEOP.

I have met CEOP CEO Jim Gamble during the course of meetings between CEOP and the ISPA and understand the hugely difficult nature of their job. CEOP volunteer staff have to spend much of their time looking at horrendous photographic evidence of child abuse. It isn’t something that a person can do for too long due to the mental stresses involved.

The success of the whole Facebook initiative depends on whether or not the CEOP app becomes viral. To facilitate the distribution of the app, Facebook has agreed to support the initiative via an advertising campaign.

CEOP deserves your support.

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UK Government Efforts ISP Regulation Gets Opposition from Unexpected Sources

There has been a lot in the press recently regarding Government plans to regulate the ISP industry. ISPs have been vociferous where they consider that this regulation is unnecessary and adds cost burdens that will have to be borne by consumers.

Quite pleasingly other industries which the Government is likely to think would be the beneficiaries of the legislation have also come out against it.

For example the high profile “three strikes” approach to Music Piracy whereby persistent file-sharers have their broadband cut off is attracting a lot of opposition from the music industry itself. The BBC reports:

Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, a member of the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), said: “It’s going to start a war which they’ll never win.”

Feargal Sharkey’s UK Music allegedly has a war chest of up to £20 million a year to lobby Government on the subject of ISP regulation. This FAC stance seems to be clear disagreement within that industry.

The leak in the Independent this week that the Queen’s Speech currently is planned to propose mandatory blocking of consumer broadband connections for child abuse images has also created a bit of a stir.

The vast majority of consumer broadband connections already have such screening and it seems that the Government is trying to make political capital out of a subject which everyone will of course support in principle.

The issue is how much effort and money will it take to cover the last few consumers not already “protected” particularly as it is smaller ISPs who are most likely to be affected. This is particularly relevant considering that all we are not talking about stopping hard core child abusers who already know how to get around the blocking.

The Register has come out with an interview on this subject with Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), and effectively the UK’s leading investigator of online child abuse who has come out against legislation in this area.

There is potentially a lot more regulation in the pipeline. Somewhere in a Government office near you someone is plotting to gain more control ever our every day lives. It is at least nice to see that there are people out there with some common sense who are willing to stick their hands up and say “this is not right”.

Business online safety


There is nothing that engenders feeling of disgust and revulsion more than the thought of child sexual abuse. This week the The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) published its third annual report.

It is pleasing to read that CEOP has been increasingly successful with its work which is growing harder because of the proliferation of social networking websites that make it easier for adults to approach children online.

I normally don’t like to publish posts that don’t add any value to information already published and available elsewhere. In this case however the results are emotionally pleasing enough for me to simply copy some key statistsics and to help distribute the news of the good work more widely:

-139 children have been safeguarded from sexual abuse either directly or indirectly as the result of CEOP activity
-20 of whom have been identified through the examination of child abuse images.
-334 suspected child sex offenders have been arrested – for offences ranging from possession of indecent
images to rape – as a result of intelligence reports from CEOP and/or through the deployment of CEOP resources.
-82 high risk sex offender networks have been disrupted or dismantled as a result of CEOP activity.
-79 of the UK’s highest risk child sex offenders have been located as a direct result of the CEOP Centre’s
UK and Overseas Tracker Teams.
-5,686 intelligence reports have been received by the CEOP Centre – a culmination of reports through
the public’s ‘report abuse’ mechanism, from the online and mobile industries and law enforcement partners in
the UK and overseas.
-3,734 child protection professionals have attended CEOP’s specialist training courses.
-Over 25,000 teachers, trainers, police officers and youth leaders have been trained or have registered
to use the Thinkuknow programme since 2006.
-Over 4,000,000 children and young people have participated in the Thinkuknow programme delivered
to them since 2006.

I’m sure that, in the light of the issue, the staff (together with the rest of us) at CEOPs would wish the numbers were even better but heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone involved here.  It is a hugely difficult job to have to do but, clearly from the stats, with good results.

You can read the full report here.

Business internet security

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre In the BBC News

Woke up this morning to another interview on the BBC News that concerns the ISP industry (is there a song there?). This time Jim Gamble, CEO of CEOP was speaking with BBC journalist Angus Crawford regarding the fact that CEOP often gets charged by ISPs when requests for information are made concerning child protection.

Gamble is suggesting that not charging should be the norm and that ISPs should see it as part of their social responsibility. Bit of an emotive subject this one.  I have more than the average number of kids and of course I am interested in protecting them from sick, deranged individuals that roam the wild wild web. I am also a businessman and we have to keep a bit of perspective in play.

Firstly the ISP industry is legally entitled to recover costs under the  Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Secondly typically when ISPs “cover their costs” all they are doing is recovering a contribution towards their costs rather than the total cost (see penultimate paragraph).  Thirdly the industry gets many thousands of these requests each year.

If there wasn’t a mechanism there to keep these requests down the those actually required, ie by charging for them, the concern is that the floodgates would open and the costs would skyrocket. These costs have to be borne by customers. 

The numbers quoted by CEOP are as follows: 

How much has CEOP paid to Communications Service Providers in each relevant accounting period since setting up in 2006?             

Financial year breakdown:
Financial year 2006/2007                             =       £   37,184.32
Financial year 2007/2008                             =       £   69,717.46
Financial year 2008/2009 (to Dec 08)            =       £   64,604.21

Total                                                        =      £ 171,505.99

How many such requests has CEOPS had for access to information since 2006?   

Financial year breakdown:
Financial Year 2006/2007 Total applications =   1,200
Financial Year 2007/2008 Total applications =   3,600
Financial Year 2008/2009 Total applications =   4,600

Total                                                    =   9,400 

The CEOPs argument is that this money would be better spent on a couple more staff. In fact the charges, if you use the above numbers, work out at around £14 per request which in my mind is exceedingly good value. It certainly doesn’t cover the actual cost of the support.

The ISP industry covers so many areas of interest that it seems to have been in the news a lot recently. Intellectually it is a very interesting space to be and for ISPs brings with it particular challenges: consumers that want to pay very little but demand more for their money and stakeholders fighting their own corners left right and centre contribututing to further pressures on costs. In the B2B space the dynamics are slightly different but nobody can say this is a boring game.