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 Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Press release: ITU celebrates the Safer Internet Day 2010 with Save the Children and Telecom Italia

Safer Internet Day: institutions, social networks, companies and the voluntary sector, all working together on the “Use Your Head When Posting Online” Campaign.

From today: messages from “Absolute Zero” will be appearing on www.sicurinrete.it and www.itu.int/cop

The “Zero Assoluto” messages, advice and a video – also broadcast by channel La7 – to convince youngsters and adults to think twice before circulating personal pictures or posting suggestive photos

“More people know you than you would imagine. They look at your photos, they talk about you, and would like to meet you. Find out why ” This is the “headline board” message that has been circulating online the past few days through which promoters of the “Think before you post” campaign that will try to bring hundreds of thousands of young internet users to land at the www.sicurinrete.it web site. Here, the words of the “Zero Assoulto”, a video and key messages will invite those who “people” social networks to use their heads when posting online! That is, to think carefully before putting their or others’ privacy at risk by publishing online personal data and pictures, maybe even ones that are suggestive or alluring, as is the case with sexting , a phenomenon which has by now become quite widespread even among Italian adolescents.

The cause of all this commotion on the Net is the Safer Internet Day. It will be celebrated tomorrow, a day established by the European Commission as a part of the Safer Internet programme that aims to promote safe and responsible use of the Internet and new technologies by younger users. In Italy, Save the Children and Adiconsum jointly administer this programme.

In line with the ITU (International telecommunication Union) Child Online Protection Initiative goals, 19 are the actors who have joined together for the first time to launch, on this day, the Think before you post: the very ample “sign” shows – all side by side – institutions, social networks, companies and organizers from the voluntary sector, in fact all the principal actors, each with their own levels and functions, that are concerned with the Internet, new media and minors: the Ministry for Equal Opportunity, the Ministry for Economic Development, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the National Centre for the fight against Child abuse images on the Internet run by the Postal and Communications Police, the Observatory for the fight against paedophilia and child pornography, the Protection of Privacy Watchdog, Save the Children, Adiconsum, the Italian Internet Provider Association (AIIP), Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Facebook, MySpace, Netlog, Virgilio, Google, Microsoft’s Windows Live, Skuola.net, and the La7 television channel.

New technologies have transformed internet users – and especially the youngest ones – into potential editors of information, pictures, films, etc. Photographs and videos can be shot and easily circulated by mobile phones, sent to a list of contacts, and loaded onto a blog or a social networking profile in no time.

Thanks to the possibility of posting personal pictures or information online offered by social networks, it has become much easier to trace a person through their photos, just as it is now easier to reconstruct his/her curriculum or aspects of his/her life. It’s also become possible to manage one’s online identity so as to be able to transform one’s self into a kind of “celebrity”.

All this can represent an opportunity for socialising, having fun, and even a means of forming new work relations. Many internet users, including many youngsters, do not always realise that whatever is published online, stays online and ends up being outside their control. A photo, maybe even one that’s suggestive, can be retrieved years later by a potential employer. The personal information contained within social networking profiles can be used for illegal purposes by unscrupulous persons.

The “Use Your Head When Posting Online” Campaign, which be found online at www.sicurinrete.it until the 12th of February, aims to sensitise youngsters and adults about the need to treat their personal data with greater care.

“Maybe you don’t even realise it, but when you chat, post, or publish online … your data becomes accessible and not just by you…at times, also by those you don’t want having access to it”, an “Absolute Zero”, for example, reminds the Net’s so many young users through an enjoyable video published on the campaign site’s home.

“A photo is forever! (and we’re not talking about diamonds…) “So, do think twice before publishing anything online” is the message that emerges when the big gift parcel on the home page is clicked on. Or, by clicking on another parcel, you’ll see “You want to use a sexy picture to provoke someone? The problem is what you might actually provoke…”

And there is also no shortage of advice and questions for adults: “When you publish something online you lose control over it. Always keep that in mind”. “The Internet is a public place like any other. Always ask yourself: and if the children should pass by?”

In the case of each of the messages it is therefore possible to reach a deeper level, with further ideas for reflection, as well as advice about how to best safeguard one’s privacy without having to give up the pleasures of the online community.

The Use Your Head When You Post Online Campaign also makes use of the TV spot produced by the European Commission for Safer Internet Day. It will be broadcast throughout Italy all day today by La7 within its daily programme schedule.

More information can be found at www.itu.int/cop