NetSafe to export model to the South Pacific

This will be its first official venture overseas

NetSafe has been approached by an international ICT development agency to “export” its know-how about safe and sensible internet use throughout the South Pacific.

The cybersafety group is currently negotiating with the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) and governments in the region with a view to having a handful of programmes operating by the end of 2007.

“We have established a cybersafety programme that we know is effective and we’re keen to get involved,” says NetSafe’s executive director, Martin Cocker. “How it pans out will depend on the funding. We can help with the logistics and co-ordination but it needs to be driven by local groups.”

NetSafe (formerly the Internet Safety Group) is a non-profit organisation that was set up in 1998 to promote safe and responsible use of information and communication technologies.

Among its successful initiatives has been the NetSafe Kit for Schools (2003), which has since been adapted for use in the UK. But this will be its first official venture overseas.

“We have given presentations in the past but these leave nothing tangible behind,” Cocker says. “Everybody understands that promoting safety on the internet is a good idea but they don’t know what to do next. The aim is to establish some sort of self-sufficiency in terms of a cybersafety programmes in each country.

“We’ll certainly have a handful up and running by the end of next year.”

The 2020 Communications Trust set up the meeting between Cocker and GKP representatives during the annual conference of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC), held in Samoa last month. The form the initiative takes and the funding — which may tie in with New Zealand government aid — are still at the planning stage. However, in a region where there is “very little, if any” cybersafety, the move has already been welcomed by Sai Taganesia, manager of the Fiji Government’s ITC Services.

“We’re definitely interested in having the involvement of NetSafe,” he says. “It can assist by advising us on how we can set up a cybersafety interest group. Through their experiences, NetSafe can identify the right organisations that should be involved, the training needs and the government’s role.

“I hope the programme will help with keeping Fijians better informed of the importance of cybersafety, and protect children and members of society who may be vulnerable to the negative impact of the cyber world.”

With their greater number of computers users, Fiji and Samoa are likely to be among the first to benefit. NetSafe, too, sees this as an opportunity to further its work and reputation.

“I don’t think it does us any harm in terms of our international profile,” says Cocker. “It’s an opportunity to work with a much larger, more diverse group of countries and gain more knowledge on promoting cybersafety.”

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