Cybersafety: new guide demystifies

Unattributed, Education Gazette, May 04, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The Online Safety Advisory Group (OSAG) in New Zealand has released a set of guidelines to help schools to apply new laws and to understand the issues surrounding the safe and responsible use of digital technologies in school (54 page PDF). These issues, according to the guide, break in to three major divisions:

  • Cybersafety: Involves conduct or behavioural concerns.
  • Cybercrime: Involves illegal activity.
  • Cybersecurity: Involves unauthorised access or attacks on a computer system.

Probably the key statement is in one of the first pages of the study: "In general, preventative approaches that rely on technical or other protections simply do not work." In order to ensure safety and security, the whole community must be involved, people need to have a say in the measures deployed, and brought to the appropriate skill levels.

This report also deals with the sensitive issue of the surrender and search of devices in schools. Teachers can't just grab a student's phone, demand passwords, and start browsing. "Searching for digital information is a specialist activity. The New Zealand Police are the only authorised agency to conduct such a search." This is as it should be. There's a lot more in the report. People dealing with digital safety and security in schools should read it.


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