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Posted on February 7th, 2012 by Barry Collins

Hokum watch: Safer Internet Day


It’s Safer Internet Day! The day on which we’re meant “to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology”, according to the official website. Instead, it seems many companies are using it to peddle irresponsible nonsense. Here’s just a few of those we’ve found – let us know if you find any more on comments below, and we’ll update the blog.


“You may think you’re safe surfing the web but there are any number of internet nasties that can creep up and harm your computer,” warns the video on Virgin Media’s Parental Controls site. “If you have no internet security installed, or just other basic free solutions, viruses and malware can take over.”

Really? Running something such as Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG Free will leave you with a virus-riddled heap of silicon, will it? Even with detection rates that are not much worse than the Trend Micro-supplied software offered by Virgin? That’s scaremongering of the highest order. As our forthcoming Labs on internet security software will prove…


You may recall the ever-fearsome Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently took exception to TalkTalk describing its service as the “UK’s safest broadband”, just because it provides network-level content filtering.

Luckily, TalkTalk found a way around that ban – by adding the word “connection” to the end of that phrase – as we can see from the company’s Facebook page, which is of course promoting Safer Internet Day.

TalkTalk Facebook

We’ll remind you what the ASA said about TalkTalk’s adverts last month. “Customers could interpret ‘safest’ as referring to a number of features, such as virus protection or protection from hacking, and that HomeSafe only offered a basic range of security features”.

A “basic range of security features” or “the UK’s safest broadband connection”? Which sounds more plausible to you?


As we pointed out yesterday, why bother spending taxpayers’ money educating the public about internet safety, when you can knock out a nauseating fifties-style public information video that is so bereft of information and entertainment value, even ITV4 wouldn’t touch it?

Step forward the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) – funded by the taxpayer to the tune of £6.4m per year – with this enormous waste of time and money.

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11 Responses to “ Hokum watch: Safer Internet Day ”

  1. Caroline Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Ok, in response to your first two examples I am quite happy to nod emphatically. As to your third example, the CEOP film, can I just emphasise to any other reader how the majority of CEOPs “taxpayer funded” money goes on vast training resources which are used daily by myself and many others. CEOP are primarily in the business of Child Protection. Their crime here, to introduce the notion that sometimes children know more than their parents? A vital fact that is worth getting out to parents as we try to educate them in ways to keep their children secure.

    I myself am CEOP trained through my role at a local College. Internet Safety for myself is not a once a year event but a subject I deliver daily to young people. We are always looking for new resources to engage the young people. You believe CEOP have the message wrong here? Surely anything that makes people take notice and maybe give a thought to what their children are up to on the internet is no bad thing?

    But of course, we are all entitled to our opinion. Yes?

  2. Stu Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    “Free AV will riddle”…
    Sure enough, totally misleading. Perhaps they’re referring, badly, to that dodgy AV software that fakes a scan of your PC (in two seconds flat!) and tells you your PC is already riddled with malware / viruses, and will ever so kindly clean it all up for you, for a price.

  3. Stu Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    So you think that spurious four minute long videos that infer ZERO information about actual internet security (the whole point) is a good thing?
    Well done on getting that CEOP job, its nice to know the people who are taking this country further into hell.

  4. Caroline Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 5:46 pm


    I think a four minute video used in context within my one hour taught session relating to how children use the internet very useful…note the word context…safer internet day 2012 is also about how our actions and knowledge can protect young people. Security is only a tiny part of it.

    Incidentally, CEOP don’t employ me. They train educators who then talk to young people. I am employed by a College…are you acrimonious to all teachers then?

  5. Paul B Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    From the sounds of it Stu is acrimonious to anyone he doesn’t agree with.

    Anyway, it’s good to hear the other side of the story and I’m sure this video doesn’t represent the sole output of the CEOP – who knows, given the attention this has garnered on the PC Pro blog, maybe they won’t make the same mistake again.

  6. Stokegabriel Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 9:07 pm


    Surely all you need to tell people is use a good AV solution, Site Adviser or similar, and use OpenDNS. What else do you need? To let people know how to configure OpenDNS perhaps, and to supervise children online.

  7. John The Ripper Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I like the CEOP advert, it’s too long, but the idea it pushes at its intended audience, the parents, works well.
    Safety on-line is about understanding how your information can be used by others, and how to reduce the risk of it all going wrong.
    It isn’t about using the ‘right software and right hardware’. It isn’t a formula like crossing the road. Its about learning to think one step further than the average self absorbed teenager normally does! ;)
    CEOP’s did well to not go down the Tufty route, and should be commended for it – even if Stu is upset!

  8. Greemble Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Where is this advert going to appear? It’s too long for TV, so I’ll guess YouTube and the CEOP website.

    How will anyone find it? Presumably they’ll be searching for info on the subject of internet safety, otherwise it’s unlikely they’ll happen across it.

    Given the nature of the search that needs to be taken to find it, what does it tell them?
    Basically, it states they probably don’t know very much and they need to find some information – Well, yes – That’s why they were looking.

    Sorry, completely pointless & total waste of money – even within the context it’s intended to be seen.

  9. Bill Urwin Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I think you are doing a disservice to the great work that is going on to try to educate parents and children to be more web savvy and stay out of danger. While it is quite easy to pick a couple of examples that perhaps show how not to do it and use those to promote your upcoming LABS on Internet Security Software, I would be more impressed if you actually went and talked to organisations like the UK Safer Internet Centre,CEOP and Childnet then promoted some of the superb materials they have in your magazine as YOUR contribution to educating some of the more naive users.

  10. Paul C Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Re the contribution of AV programs to internet safety…
    I tried Virgin Media’s free AV solution a few years ago. It found a TXT file that it claimed had a virus. It refused to let me access the file, hanging the computer when I tried. Yet another example of an AV program that acts more like a virus.
    I have tried many AV programs over the years. Eventually I gave up on paid-for ones with quirky behaviours, and settled for MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials), which generally does not get up one’s nose.

  11. clckmss Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Internet Safety is an awful lot more than “running a good AV suite”.
    So much nowadays is social engineering rather than hacking.

    And even the best AV isn’t going to stop your sprogs from posting personal details or updating their status to “on holiday for 2 weeks”.

    The threats to the safety of internet users – especially children – are much greater than simply trashing their equipment. Irresponsible use of social media and geolocation could cost you a lot more than a few files.


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