A CHESTER company is leading the fight to protect youngsters from pornographic and child abuse websites when accessing the internet in public.
The Registered Digital Institute (RDI), based on Union Street, has developed and launched ‘Friendly Wi-Fi’ – said to be the world’s first accreditation scheme designed to verify whether a business’s public Wi-Fi service meets a minimum level of filtering.
It aims to keep children and young people safe from viewing inappropriate material when logged into public Wi-Fi offered in cafes, shops, hotels and restaurants across the UK.
Organisations, including Tesco, Starbucks and Chester Cathedral have already adopted the scheme, which is backed by children's charity the NSPCC.
RDI director Mike Davies said: “The RDI is looking forward to supporting a safer environment for children and young people as the level of internet browsing and availability of services continues to increase.”
Chester MP Stephen Mosley added: “I couldn’t be prouder that it is a Chester company that is leading the way in keeping our children safe online. I’ve met with RDI and heard about this scheme, it’s a vital leap forward in online safety.
“Making sure the internet is safe for children is about evolving to the changing nature of technology. That’s why Friendly Wi-Fi is so important as it adapts to the new nature of Wi-Fi technology.
“While we must not be complacent, Friendly Wi-Fi is a big step forward in making sure our children stay safe online.”
During his 2013 NSPCC speech on online safety, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that an agreement was in place with the UK’s main Wi-Fi providers to commit to applying a level of filtering across all of their standard public Wi-Fi services, which are easily accessed by children and young people.
Mr Cameron also highlighted the need to develop an industry-recognised and trusted symbol, which businesses could display to show customers that their public Wi-Fi is properly filtered.
RDI were asked to work with The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the government and the UK’s main Wi-Fi providers, to design, develop and launch the UK-wide ‘Friendly WiFi’ scheme.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The ‘Friendly WiFi’ logo will make clear to parents which cafes, restaurants and other businesses have internet access that is safe for their children to use. It will help these firms ensure that families feel comfortable and make it clear to parents they are choosing a safe online environment.”
Claire Lilley, head of child online safety at NSPCC, added: “Children often go online when they are out and about and parents need to know that using a public Wi-Fi network won’t expose them to pornography. So it’s very reassuring for parents to know that when they see the ‘Friendly WiFi’ logo they can allow their children to go online in safety.
“However, as with any filtering measures it’s vital not to be complacent and we urge parents to talk to their children about what they get up to online and what to do if they have any concerns.”