In this week’s news, we report on risky internet use, Instagram hazards, digital identities and more.
CHILDREN’S RISKY INTERNET USE
A survey of the online behaviour of 10-15 year old’s during the year ending March 2020 reveals some concerning figures about the numbers taking part in potentially risky activities, even before the pandemic lockdowns. The figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics show that in the previous 12 months nearly one third of 10-15’s had accepted a friend request from someone they didn’t know. One in six (17%) had spoken to someone they hadn’t met before and an estimated 5% met up in person with someone they had only met online. Around 6% had sent a photo or video of themselves to someone they had never met in person.
About 1 in 10 of 13-15 year olds reported having received a sexual message (including photos, texts and videos) in the previous 12 months and 1 in 100 had sent one. Girls were much more likely than boys to have received such messages – 16% compared with 6% .
10% of children reported bad experiences while playing online games rising to 14% while social networking, 15% while messaging and 17% while using chat rooms.
In terms of the time spent online, over three-quarters of children reported spending three or more hours online a day at the weekend and nearly half spent this long online on school days too. One in five (22%) spent seven or more hours a day online at the weekend.
The report noted that the statistics related to a period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the lockdowns are likely to have increased the time spent online and the potentially harmful activities engaged in.
HAZARDS OF POSTING ON INSTAGRAM
In a salutary warning of the dangers of revealing too much personal information on social media, burglars in Italy studied Instagram posts by celebrities, using geolocation details to pinpoint the location of their homes as well as identifying suitable entry points and when the victims would be out. According to a BBC article, CCTV footage showed the burglars scaling apartment buildings to gain access.
The Government has published draft rules for the future use of digital identities. This aims to help people prove who they are, where they live or how old they are, without the need for physical documents. This will have many applications including buying age-restricted goods online or in person. The framework, once finalised is expected to be brought into law and in the meantime, feedback is being sought from industry, civil society groups and the public via an online survey by 12pm on Thursday 11 March 2021.
In a new twist on a prevalent HMRC scam, fraudsters are now using Royal Courts of Justice phone numbers or emails to threaten victims with arrest for mistakes in tax returns or alleging fraudulent use of National Insurance numbers. The public are advised not to give any personal information nor to make any payments.
Warnings of a rise in romance scams as a result of increased use of online dating during lockdown, also require public vigilance. Scammers build up trust with their victims and as a result, losses are often very high. Action Fraud received reports of losses of over £68 million in 2020.
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