RM Education Welcomes Government’s Online Harms Whitepaper

  • RM Education welcomes government’s latest Whitepaper on protecting children online

  • RM Education has worked with schools for 45 years and sees the proposals as senior backing to developing and applying comprehensive safeguarding systems and policies to keep children safe at school

  • Regular training for all staff and whole-school policy reviews remain central to ensuring ongoing compliance and effective practice

From Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of RM Education

“At RM Education we work solely in the Education sector and welcome the publication of the Online Harms White Paper (8 April 2019). It reflects a lot of what we have been doing and saying for some time, and we are now looking at how we can work with the government during the 12-week consultation period, to share our experience from working with thousands of UK schools.

As an organisation that has a rich history of software development in this area, RM Education is a long-term investor in the development of technology that keeps schools and their users safe and secure online. As an example, we already work with organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation, Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), NSPCC and the UK Safer Internet Centre to protect young learners from online harms.

Earlier this year we commissioned our own independent market research – in association with the NSPCC – into Online Safety Policy and Practice within schools. Whilst the results have not yet been published, the early findings confirm that schools lack the skills and access to training that is required in a world where online harms are prevalent.

It is therefore no surprise that at RM Education we are pushing for a whole-school approach to Online Safety, with the education of the entire school community being at the heart of that activity. We must therefore find a way to ensure that everyone in every school has access to the means and the resources to protect themselves online. That covers everything from the education of what to look out for, to the technology to make that possible, to the resources to take any action that is necessary.

This White Paper is a good start, but we now urge the government to work with industry to ensure that internet technology developments allow organisations and individuals to continue to protect the most vulnerable from illegal and harmful content.

As an example, whilst the focus to date has been quite rightly on social media platforms, we should not forget that in the strive for privacy, developments in the technical protocols such as DNS over HTTPS and Encrypted SNI may inadvertently prevent the technology used today to protect young and vulnerable people from working effectively in restricting such online harms.

It is therefore essential that the companies that are behind the development of these protocols are also in scope for regulation or else we run the risk of harmful content being more accessible than ever – not just through the social media platforms that are clearly within scope – but these other technologies as well.”

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