The recently launched Friendly WiFi scheme, which verifies whether a businesses’ public Wi-Fi service meets a minimum level of filtering to block out access to pornographic and child abuse websites, is the first of its kind in the world.
It was developed by Registered Digital Institute (RDI) in collaboration with The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the government and the UK’s main Wi-Fi Providers.
Businesses that sign up to the scheme have their public Wi-Fi verified and can then display the Friendly WiFi symbol on and offline, giving reassurance to parents. Scheme members will also feature on the Friendly WiFi UK search directory at www.friendlywifi.co.uk.
RDI Director Mike Davies said: “The creation of the ‘Friendly WiFi’ scheme follows a number of collaborative discussions about what can be done to improve child safety online.
“RDI has worked with the Government and industry to develop such a scheme, carrying a friendly logo to help UK businesses promote the fact that their Wi-Fi service is filtered and that Friendly WiFi sites can be easily identified and located throughout the UK.”
Starbucks, Giraffe Café and Harris and Hoole are among the UK businesses that have signed up for the Friendly WiFi scheme so far.
Simon Redfern, Starbucks communications director, said: “Our customers love using the free WiFi available to all in our stores. Working with Friendly WiFi enables us to offer the right balance of freedom online while protecting users from accessing content that may not be appropriate for them or others around them.
The scheme has also received support from the NSPCC, the Internet Watch Foundation, CEOP, Childnet, online safety experts and Communications minister Ed Vaizey.
“The Friendly WiFi logo will make clear to parents which cafes, restaurants and other businesses have internet access that is safe for their children to use,” said Vaizey.
“It will help these firms ensure that families feel comfortable and make it clear to parents they are choosing a safe online environment.”