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The Safer Internet Day ‘connect with respect' program promotes a message of model digital citizenry. In Australia, the focus is on children’s Internet behaviour.

Safer Internet Day, now in its tent year, was held around the world yesterday. It began with an early morning broadcast from the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) ‘Cybersmart ‘ Internet radio program, which was handed over to the UK at 8am and the USA later in the day.

The Australian program featured children and teenagers, parents and teachers, along with local and international technology and other experts promoting the cyber safety message. Indeed, this year’s Safer Internet Day focussed very heavily on children and their Internet behaviour. More than 17,000 students across Australia participated in an online program in Internet Safety presented by Cybersmart outreach trainers conducted through a variety of state education portals.

Representatives from organisations including Childnet International, the Family Online Safety Institute, Google, Facebook, Disney, eBay, Telstra, Paypal, Kids Helpline, state police departments as well as members of the Australian Government's Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety are also taking part in the ACMA's activities on the day.

According to ACMA Deputy Chairman, Richard Bean, "Safer Internet Day is a fantastic opportunity for us all to come back to the basics of online safety by thinking about how we can be better digital citizens. The resources Cybersmart is providing for the day allow everyone to participate and show our practical online safety material to the world."

To mark the occasion, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and ACMA) have signed a new agreement to help combat the flow of child abuse materials on the internet. The A Memorandum of Understanding promotes greater efficiency in identifying and removing websites containing illegal child exploitation images and helping to remove offenders from the community.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan has welcomed the new, formalised partnership. “The AFP works closely with a wide network of international and Australian partners to keep prohibited materials off the internet/ All appropriate measures are taken to ensure that law enforcement authorities are in a better position to stop the exploitation of children and child sex crimes, and this MoU is yet another example of that shared commitment.”

ACMA Deputy Chair, Richard Bean emphasised the success of the relationship.  "It is through our strong relationship with the AFP that the ACMA is at its most effective as a frontline agency dealing with reports from the Australian public about child sexual abuse material and other illegal online content," he said.

“Each and every item of child abuse material that is removed from the internet means a real reduction in the re-victimisation of the children depicted and the number of families inadvertently exposed to deeply disturbing content.” Both agencies work with Australian and international partners to keep children safe from online predators.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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