Irish government proposes cyber safety education in schools

An Oireachtas committee released a report calling for primary and post-primary schools in Ireland to introduce cyber safety to their curriculums. It adds that schools should:

  • Appoint digital safety ambassadors, who would help students who have concerns about their cyber safety and security;
  • Encourage and accommodate peer-to-peer workshops on cyber safety; and
  • Have children host education and awareness evenings for parents.

The Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs also proposes that the government establishes an advisory task force on the protection of young people and appoints a digital safety commissioner.

Additionally, the committee recommends that the government creates new laws for online harassment and launches a public awareness campaign emphasising individuals’ right to erasure and the need for social media platforms to strengthen their safety policies.

What will this achieve?

The committee’s chairman, Alan Farrell, prefaced the report by saying: “Internet safety and security for children and young adults is one of the most urgent and pressing child protection concerns facing policy makers, parents and guardians, teachers and, most importantly, children and young adults themselves.”

He expressed his concern that the Internet comes with “few boundaries, regulations, laws or certainties”, and said that young people needed to be educated about the perils that come with that.

The public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of cyber safety and security, as can be seen by the response to the recent Facebook scandal. Many people responded angrily to the news that the social media giant had misappropriated millions of people’s personal data, signalling a marked change in attitude compared to the muted response to Facebook’s previous indiscretions. Many users campaigned to ‘#deletefacebook’, and although it’s not known how many people followed through with that request, it sparked mainstream debates about Internet safety.

Encouraging young people to learn about cyber safety will mean these debates should become more common and informed, and will hopefully lead to people being more sceptical about organisations’ requests for their personal data. Individuals and organisations will be helped by the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. The GDPR strengthens individuals’ rights concerning their personal data and provides organisations with a set of rules for telling data subjects about what data is collected, what it is used for and how individuals can exercise their rights. The Regulation also instructs organisations to take steps to stay cyber secure.

Those who want to learn more about the Regulation should read our free green paper: EU General Data Protection Regulation – A Compliance Guide.

This guide provides an overview of the key changes introduced by the GDPR, the scope and impact of the Regulation and the areas that organisations need to focus on.

This green paper is also available in French, Italian and Spanish.

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