R1 000 000 available to South African schools in a nation-wide online safety campaign!

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Joining the #share2protect campaign, can earn schools up to R20 000, while helping to keep children safer online – by asking parents to submit a facial scan of their children. The recent 2021 Convergence Survey conducted by the Film and Publication Board (media content regulator for South Africa), indicates that unmonitored, uncontrolled access by children to online media is growing significantly.

One way of mitigating online risks for children, such as access to pornography, cyberbullying and
grooming, is ensuring that internet users can only access age-appropriate content, online areas and
people. This is called age-gating and is currently not very well regulated, as most sites simply require users to enter their date of birth or tick a box certifying their age. FEDSAS (the national representative organisation for governing bodies of South African schools), has joined forces with Be in Touch (South Africa’s leading family digital wellness activists), and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA).This formidable team is partnering with Yoti (a UK-based identity verification platform), to launch a nationwide child protection and fundraising campaign, ensuring that an effective age gating solution is available and implementable in online spaces where children are at risk.

South African schools who choose to join the #share2protect campaign will not only be contributing to the protection of children around the globe, but can also tap into much-needed fundraising for their school while doing good! Once registered and verified, South African schools will be issued a unique #share2protect campaign website link, which the parents in their school community can use to give consent and share facial photos of their children between the ages of 5 and 13. This is a safe, secure and legally compliant process, and no identities or location are shared or tracked, nor are the facial photos used for any other purpose than training the system.

Yoti will track the photo submissions for each school, using the unique link and has pledged to
donate R20 per photo submitted, with each school having the opportunity of raising up to R20 000 in funding. Yoti’s age estimation system was built to give everyone a secure and private way of proving their age, without the need for an ID document or revealing any other personal information. Just look into the camera, your face is scanned, your age is estimated in seconds and your image is deleted. From here you can connect with age-appropriate content and people online.
The technology uses machine-learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) which Yoti has trained to estimate ages. To train the AI, Yoti inputs verified data – an individual’s photo, month and year of birth – and the system keeps on learning and improving.

At least 50 000 facial photographs of children aged 5-13 are needed to “train” this AI system to
accurately estimate the ages of children under 13. The ultimate goal is to make accurate age estimation technology available to online platforms, as a way to regulate and limit access by children to age-inappropriate content and conversations online. Adult content sites, social media apps and games will have real options for proper age gating, and will feel the pressure to put stricter controls in place and offer age-appropriate content moderation, especially where there is a high risk of predators, sexual content, violence, self-harm and suicide, cyberbullying, drugs and alcohol.

The #share2protect campaign is inviting South African school staff members to email their interest to share2protect@yoti.com with their School Name in the email subject line, and phone number and name of the school staff member who will be championing their schools #share2protect campaign in the email body.

Interested parents and teachers can watch the following short video for more detail on the
campaign https://bit.ly/3ojGKOQ or go to the campaign website https://share2protect.yoti.com/

 

For more info contact:

Josh Ramsey, Be In Touch at 079 422 8113 or josh@beintouch.org.za
Riaan van der Bergh, FEDSAS at 082 490 5790 or tech@fedsas.org.za
Phakamile Khumalo, MMA at phakamilek@mma.org.za

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