I don’t often paste things from senior Microsoft folks into my blog, but I’d like to quote some things from our managing director here in the UK, Gordon Frazer

February 9th marks Safer Internet Day, a vital drive to promote a safer internet for all users, especially young people.

For the second year in a row, Microsoft subsidiaries across Europe are organizing employee volunteering activities for Safer Internet Day 2010. Through local partnerships with NGOs, schools, customers and partners, around 650 Microsoft employees in 24 subsidiaries will train more than 50,000 people on online safety. Last year Microsoft UK educated 12,000 young people and 2000 parents in online safety

Through an accident of scheduling I’m going to be using one of the volunteering days Microsoft gives me today, but for a different cause.  Volunteering days are one of the distinct pluses about working at Microsoft and its great to see colleagues supporting things like this. I’ve also maintained for a long time when a company is Microsoft’s size it brings some responsibilities with it, and the protection of children has been an area we have concentrated on since before I joined the company 10 years ago.

We are part of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and Gordon’s mail also said This year as part of the “Click Clever Click Safe” campaign UKCCIS will be launching a new digital safety code for children– “Zip It, Block It, Flag It”.  Over 100 Microsoft volunteers will be out in schools in the UK teaching young people and parents alike about child online safety and helping build public awareness for simple safety tips.

Our volunteering activities today mark our strong commitment to child online safety. Online safety is not only core to our business, as exemplified by particular features in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and our work in developing the Microsoft Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) which helps law enforcement officials collaborate and share information with other police services to manage child protection cases, but it is also an issue that our employees, many parents themselves, take very seriously. As a company we put a great deal of faith in our technology, however, we are also aware that the tools we provide have to be used responsibly. 

Indeed. I said in something else I was writing that there is an old phrase describing user issues  “PEBCAK  Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard”, and technology – however good – is no substitute for user education. We have a page of advice which you might find obvious but could be helpful to share with  friends and family that have children active online http://www.microsoft.com/uk/citizenship/safeandsecure/parentadvice/default.mspx

IE8 provides the best protection out there, and the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre (CEOP) have launched their own branded version of it which provides ease of reporting access for young people www.ceop.gov.uk/ie8, which again may be worth installing at home if you have children or passing on to Friends and Family who are running older versions of IE.