SOARING SMARTPHONE use in children coupled with an unprecedented hike in the number of UK public WiFi hotspots has led to a new campaign calling on businesses to let customers know their internet filters out inappropriate content.
The ‘It’s Good to Know’ campaign has been launched by Friendly WiFi, the UK Government-initiated certification scheme that is the only one of its kind in the world, and aims to support the UK’s ambitions to become the safest place in the world to go online.
Friendly WiFi was initiated in July 2014 to ensure public WiFi meets minimum filtering standards, particularly in those areas where children are present.
In 2014, there were around 5.6m WiFi hotspots in Britain and this is estimated to have tripled by 2018. Last year, figures showed that nearly half the population regularly use public WiFi hotspots.
Globally, the number of public WiFi hotspots is expected to grow to 432.5m by 2020 – a 700% increase since 2015 when it was from 64.2m. Currently, it is estimated that more than half of the world’s WiFi remains unfiltered for adult content.
Venues displaying the Friendly WiFi symbol have WiFi filters which deny access to pornography and webpages known by the Internet Watch Foundation to host indecent images of children and advertisements or links to such content.
The service has already been adopted by high street giants Tesco, Starbucks and IKEA as well as hundreds of venues across the country.
Now children’s campaigners and online safety organisations are calling specifically on UK businesses who have children and families regularly using their public WiFi to show they are ‘friendly’.
Friendly WiFi director Bev Smith said: “Just looking at the three years we have been in service is to witness a huge rise in young people owning and using smartphones.
“More than 40% of children aged 5-15 own a smartphone. Ten years ago, that number was effectively zero.
“Now is the right time for all businesses which provide public WiFi to prove they take the same care for their customer’s online safety as they do for their physical wellbeing.”