The Berkman Center Announces Formation of Internet Safety Task Force to Identify and Develop Online Safety Tools

More than 20 Organizations including AOL, AT&T, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, MySpace, NCMEC, Symantec, Verizon and Yahoo! Join Task Force.

February 28, 2008

Cambridge, MA – The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School today announced that it will head a newly formed Internet Safety Technical Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of leading Internet businesses and organizations, will focus on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by many companies across multiple platforms.

“The safety concerns posed by the Internet are part and parcel of the safety concerns that arise in human interactions in the physical world. These concerns are not unique to any one service or technology platform; they are shared by the companies that provide Internet services and the individuals who use these services. We should work together – private firms, technologists, experts from the non-profit world, and leaders in government – to solve online safety issues as a joint effort,” said John Palfrey, Executive Director of The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. “We are honored to assume the leadership of this Task Force and excited to convene the broad array of interests represented by the group.”

The Task Force will evaluate a broad range of existing and state-of-the-art online safety technologies, including a review of identity authentication tools to help sites enforce minimum age requirements. The Task Force is a central element of the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by MySpace and the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking. Fifty Attorneys General adopted the “Joint Statement” with the goal of improving online safety standards industry-wide.

"The Berkman Center’s impressive research on the challenges and opportunities offered by the Internet makes them the ideal leader for the Task Force," said Hemanshu Nigam, Chief Security Officer for Fox Interactive Media and MySpace. "We look forward to partnering with The Berkman Center and the Task Force to identify the technologies and tools that will be available industry-wide to provide a safer online experience for all Internet users."

The Task Force will be led by Berkman Center Executive Director John Palfrey, along with co-directors danah boyd and Dena Sacco, with support from the Berkman Center’s Digital Natives project team and Cyberlaw Clinic and with support from Prof. Dr. Urs Gasser, director of the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen. Members of the Task Force include industry-leading Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, and technology companies.

Organizations that have joined the Task Force include:

• AOL
• Aristotle
• AT&T
• Bebo
• Berkman Center
• Center for Democracy & Technology
• Connectsafely.org
• Comcast
• Enough is Enough
• Facebook
• Google
• Family Online Safety Institute
• iKeepSafe
• Institute for Policy Innovation
• Linden Lab
• Loopt
• IDology
• Microsoft
• MySpace
• NCMEC
• Progress and Freedom Foundation
• Sentinel Tech
• Symantec
• Verizon
• WiredSafety.org
• Xanga
• Yahoo!

"We believe in the power of technology, that is why we are so enthusiastic about the new Internet Safety Technical Task Force,” said Ernie Allen, President and Chief Executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We are hopeful that together we can explore and find solutions through technology that enable the expansive use of the marvelous tools and resources available, while more effectively protecting the children and young people who use them in such large numbers."

"AOL remains a leader in developing innovative technologies – such as AOL’s parental controls – to protect children’s online experience and empower their parents," said Charles Curran, AOL’s Chief Counsel for Policy & Regulatory. "The Berkman Center’s policy expertise will be invaluable to the Task Force’s evaluation of new online security tools and we look forward to working with them to promote effective solutions for child safety".

The Task Force will prepare quarterly reports with their findings and present a final report at the end of the year.

###

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School is proud to celebrate its tenth year as a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is now home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.

Jessica Tatlock
617.384.9129
jtatlock@cyber.law.harvard.edu

Last updated September 23, 2010

For press inquiries, contact press at cyber.

Announcements

Archived press releases and announcements can be found here.

Stay Connected

Are you a journalist? podcaster? blogger? Sign up for our press mailing list.

Interested in Berkman research, events, conversations, internships, more? Sign up for one of our many mailing lists.