‘Friendly WiFi’ in public places celebrates 1st Year Anniversary

Published:  Thu 30 Jul 2015

World’s first public WiFi accreditation scheme a year old, protecting UK internet users from child sexual abuse imagery in coffee shops and supermarkets.

On 24 July 2013 UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that a concerted effort would be made to ensure WiFi services offered in public places in the UK would be made ‘family friendly’. The Registered Digital Institute (RDI) and The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), with support from Government and the UK internet industry, developed the world’s first public WiFi accreditation scheme, Friendly WiFi. July 2015 marks the scheme’s 1 Year Anniversary.

How does it work?

The Friendly WiFi scheme ensures businesses offering internet access in public places are accredited to a certain standard of filtering so as to protect customers, in particular children and young people, from accessing online content such as pornography. Inclusive of the Friendly WiFi scheme is the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) URL List of blocked child sexual abuse imagery, so as to prevent anyone accessing the web in public places from viewing illegal content.

How will you know if a venue has Friendly WiFi?

Each business or venue offering public WiFi affiliated with the scheme is offered the opportunity to display the ‘Friendly WiFi Symbol’, showing customers it offers responsible and safe internet access. The symbol might be displayed in store windows, on store signage or possibly on their WiFi sign-up landing page. In just the first year the scheme has successfully bought on board retailers such as Starbucks, Tesco and IKEA.

What has it meant for the IWF?

Since the introduction of the Friendly WiFi scheme, increased deployment of the IWF URL List has helped to protect more and more internet users from known child sexual abuse imagery as organisations and venues sign-up to the scheme. One of the IWFs newest Members, Nomad Digital, a train network internet provider, was encouraged to join IWF membership through the Friendly WiFi scheme in a bid to offer safer and more responsible WiFi services to train users. Nomad Digital is the IWF’s first ever transport connectivity Member.

The arrival of the Friendly WiFi scheme provided an added value to IWF membership as those companies benefitting from the IWF URL List became automatically eligible to sign-up for the scheme. In order for a public venue to achieve Friendly WiFi accreditation its internet service provider (ISP) must be an IWF Member and deploying the IWF URL List, therefore making those Member ISPs more responsible and attractive suppliers than those not receiving the IWF URL List.

For more information on the Friendly WiFi scheme, see the Friendly WiFi website as managed by RDI. From the website you can discover where your nearest Friendly WiFi venue is, enquire about registering and receive regular news updates.

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