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Keeping children safe online: TrustElevate,

VoCO (Verification of Children Online) trials


Schools

In Q1 2020, TrustElevate completed a series of tech trials with the UK government, BT, the UK’s largest ISP, and two other companies.

Children are spending more time online and child safety becomes a massive concern for parents. Dr Rachel O’Connell, TrustElevate’s founder and CEO, is a leading expert on child safety online, she advises the UK government. 

TrustElevate delivered a series of internet safety talks and trials at schools and the response was extremely positive. 

The trials were conducted in collaboration with BT, BlackDice (a cybersecurity company) and Trackd (an app)  so as to demonstrate the solution’s viability at various points on the stack: with BT, at the hub; with BlackDice, at the router; and with BlackDice at the individual app level. 

The trials demonstrated what could happen when a child registers for a new app or online service. TrustElevate enabled a parent to confirm the age of the child, approve access, and importantly, made the app owner or service provider, know the age band of the child (for example, ‘below 12 years of age’) and thus serve them age-appropriate content and enable the parent to indicate that parent just wants the child to interact with children in the same age band and/or people they know. 

The data transferred is encrypted, checked, deleted and never shared with another company. The app a child wishes to access is only ever given a token, that does not contain any personal information. The token indicates that an adult with parental responsibility for a child aged, for example below 12 years of age, has given consent for the child to access, for example, TikTok. 

TrustElevate (TE) participated in the VoCO project as an age-assurance technology provider, in which its ability to enable the proposition in a feasible, proportionate and desirable manner was tested. This was done in collaboration with BT. The VoCO BT_TE tech trials proved that BT can integrate TE and make TE’s age-assurance service available to its customers. The trials indicated that a representative sample of BT’s customers viewed the approach positively, successfully completed the checks and were confident about using a service vetted by BT.

The BT_TE VoCO trials also included Trackd, a music app that wanted to both know the age band of users accessing its services and to test the possibility of making its service available to young children (<13), requiring pre-knowledge of age and parental consent under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018. The Trackd aspect of the trial was representative of all Information Society Services (ISSs: paid-for services which are provided through the internet and involve data storage, see Terminology).

Schools:

Hornsey School, Ipswitch School, Broke Hall, George Greens School

Number of pupils: 200

Feedback:

The workshop was very useful indeed: I learned a lot about the legalities and also the technical aspects of online harms, duty of care and data governance. The experts who spoke presented the subject matter in a clear and engaging manner. The interactive tasks were thoughtfully designed to encourage genuine debate and contributions. – Jill Baker, Executive Principal, George Greens School, London

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