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Tuesday, April 16th 2024
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Schools Encouraged to Promote Parental Control for Internet Safety: DoT

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The DoT said the Prime Minister s Office had direc 1710840571755

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Monday asked the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSE&L) to issue instructions to all schools through their respective boards to raise awareness about online parental control solutions and reviewed the development of the SafeNet parental control app that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been co-developing with the Kerala-based Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, three participants told HT on the condition of anonymity.

In a meeting held in Delhi on Monday, the DoT asked the DSE&L to take the issue on a priority basis as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had directed to “incorporate parental controls in data usage” by July 31, 2024.

In Monday’s meeting, the DoT reiterated its request from November 2023, asking the DSE&L to direct schools to raise awareness about parental control solutions through parent-teacher meetings, orientation days and annual functions and use WhatsApp groups between parents and teachers and other tools of communication.

In the meeting, the participants concluded that while support and awareness-building exercises from telecom service providers (TSPs) and internet service providers (ISPs) are important, schools are best positioned for such interventions as parents are the primary targets.

In Monday’s review meeting, participants discussed whether the DoT should issue a letter with directions to the DSE&L that it could then send to the school boards.

The DoT will decide the date of the next meeting after it issues a letter in this regard to the DSE&L and receives a response. The DoT will also get status reports from TSPs and ISPs about the steps they have taken for raising awareness about parental controls.

At least one TSP said that it regularly sends SMS blasts to its subscribers to raise awareness about parental controls, and that it gives details of how to use parental controls on its postpaid bills.

Meanwhile, MeitY informed DoT that the SafeNet parental control app has been released on Google Play Store in beta mode and is still being tested.

In the November meeting, MeitY had informed the participants that it had developed SafeNet application for parental controls. This app, according to its website, will allow parents to set content filters for their children, access their live location, and access their calls and messages.

In the November meeting, MeitY had asked the participants for their feedback on the app so that it could improve it. However, it received no comments. Thus, in the meeting on Monday, it was decided that MeitY would continue to develop and scale the app without comments.

Also, there was no discussion about the threats to privacy and security that can be posed by such an app.

HT earlier reported that parental control apps such as SafeNet can be abused as stalkerware, that is, used by abusers to monitor and track people without the victim’s knowledge and consent.

“Such apps, if widely available on all devices, without verification of legitimate parent-child relationships can also lead to incidences of intimate partner violence, so enough safeguards need to be built to avoid abuse of these tools as well,” Aparajita Bharti, founding partner of The Quantum Hub (TQH) Consulting who has worked extensively on protecting children online, had said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)