Friendly WiFi launches
We are delighted to announce the UK launch of 'Friendly WiFi', the world's first public WiFi accreditation scheme. Friendly WiFi is designed to verify whether a business' public Wi-Fi service meets a minimum level of filtering to block out access to pornographic and child abuse websites. 'Friendly WiFi' 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.
During his 2013 NSPCC speech on online safety, 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. Discussions around the development of such a scheme and symbol began 12 months ago, when the RDI were asked to work in collaboration 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 that we see today.
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."
He added; "This shows that businesses are responding to Government's call to think about how they can help parents protect their children from inappropriate content online."
Claire Lilley, Head of Child Online Safety at NSPCC, has also given the scheme her backing; "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."
John Carr, Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety added; "I am very happy to support the work of the UK's first 'Friendly WiFi' initiative and its goal to help protect children and young people online. The commitment made by the UK's main Wi-Fi providers is a huge step forward with regards to online safety as it's the first time providers of internet access in public spaces have acknowledged their responsibility to all internet users and for that they deserve hearty congratulations."
Tesco, who are a 'Friendly WiFi' scheme stakeholder, are also leading the initiative to show their support for the safeguarding of children online through the display of the 'Friendly WiFi' logo in store. Tesco customers will see the 'Friendly WiFi' logo displayed when they log-in to use the free public Wi-Fi, offered both in store and in Tesco coffee shops. By displaying this logo, Tesco customers can be assured that the public Wi-Fi they are using has been verified and that any local Tesco site offering public Wi-Fi has been certified as a 'Friendly WiFi' site.
Andrew Uden, Category Technical Manager for Tesco said: "As the UK's leading retailer it's important we do everything we can to make sure children are properly safeguarded in our stores. 'Friendly WiFi' means parents can be safe in the knowledge that we are doing all we can to make sure unsuitable content is not accessible through Tesco wireless networks. This will be made clear to customers by the display of the 'Friendly WiFi' logo in our stores."
RDI Director Mike Davies said; "The creation of the 'Friendly WiFi' scheme follows a number of collaborative discussions about what can be done to improve child safety online. RDI has worked with the Government and industry to develop such a scheme, carrying a friendly logo to help UK businesses promote the fact that their Wi-Fi service is filtered and that 'Friendly WiFi' sites can be easily identified and located throughout the UK. 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."
Other brands that have signed up to become 'Friendly WiFi' members include Starbucks and Samsung.