Online Safety Policy
Online Safety Policy
Purpose of policy
The purpose of this policy is to outline and provide a general guide on mitigating:
- Risk of identity theft
- Threats to OUA students and OUA from the 'grooming' of students, especially students under 18
- Risk of scamming associated with social networking sites
The following definitions apply to this policy and procedure:
|Online Grooming||Online Grooming is where an individual, through words and actions, attempts to lower another individual's (often a child or younger person) inhibitions regarding sexual activity by identifying with another person's interests, making them the focus of their attention, and in particular making the recipient of their attention believe that they are their 'special friend'.
Online chat rooms and/or social networking sites are a particular target.
Various jurisdictions around Australia have or are in the process of introducing or strengthening laws on this issue e.g. Crimes Amendment (Grooming) Act 2014 in Victoria.
The Act amends the Crimes Act 1958 by inserting a new offence of grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 years and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.
New section 49B(2) provides that a person of or over the age of 18 must not communicate by words or conduct with a child under the age of 16, or a person under whose care, supervision or authority the child is, with the intention of facilitating the child's engagement or involvement in a sexual offence with that person or another adult. It is not necessary that the child respond to the communication. A maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment applies to this offence.
|Scamming||Scamming is a fraud or a swindle. Increasingly, it is used to describe a fraud originating through a communication channel e.g. phone or the internet. Scamming is very common. For example, in 2012 Curtin University Business School undertook a national survey project to investigate the prevalence of scams committed against small businesses in Australia. Of the 192 small business survey participants, more than 70 per cent may have wasted time and/or money thwarting a scam attempt, 12 per cent lost money to a scam. The research also indicated that the more online activity and e-commerce a firm undertakes, the higher losses are likely to be.
Dating/relationship scams, often run by experienced criminal networks, involve the development of a strong relationship with the victim, often over weeks or months, before asking for money to help cover costs associated with illness, injury, a family crisis or to travel to see them. This scam type commonly involves the scammer trying to exploit their victim's emotions. Dating/relationships scammers often approach their victims on legitimate websites and then quickly attempt to move the victim away from the security of the website, communicating through other methods such as email.
|Identity theft||Identity theft is a growing crime in which the offender/imposter obtains key pieces of personal information (e.g. address, birth date, driver's license, and student numbers) in order to impersonate someone else, usually for criminal purposes.|
|Cyber bullying||Cyber bullying is the use of mobile phones, instant messaging, email, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone. The term is also used to describe the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (such as a student), often anonymously.|
OUA is committed to:
- Mitigating risk of identity theft
- Mitigating risk of cyber bullying and harassment
- Providing guidance to students about protecting themselves in the online environment
Mitigating risk of identity theft
Identity theft and unauthorised data use is a growing online safety concern among students and the wider public. In order to provide appropriate levels of security for students and to protect OUA from reputational risk in the changing digital environment with its growing security complexities, OUA needs to consider this issue in the development of its policies and procedures particularly in public facing areas. It also has the responsibility of according with the letter and spirit of the Privacy Act which has as its intent protection from misuse of personal information.
Appropriate security checks have been implemented for students who contact OUA either by phone or electronically (including by email and through the OUA website), but the increasing use of outbound campaigns highlights OUA's responsibilities to establish its bona fides, and assure data security while conducting such campaigns.
While OUA is clearly acting within the law when it conducts outbound campaigns to students who have given permission to be contacted commercially, care needs to be taken when contacting such students that personal information is not revealed inappropriately.
In order to protect students against potential identity theft, the following principles should apply when making outbound contacts:
- The source of the contact should be clearly identified.
- Personal information e.g. birth date, email address (in the case of phone calls), Student ID, citizenship and enrolment details should not be provided to the contact recipient.
- Contacts should be offered the opportunity to contact OUA, preferably through a publicly advertised phone number.
- In case of a student wishing to seek further information relating to existing enrolment, a Student Advisor should ensure that they forward the call to the Inbound Student Advisor team who in turn would verify them before taking the discussion any further.
- If a student wishes to seek confirmation whether this call is made by OUA it is preferable to leave an email ID and Caller ID for verification by the student.
- If a student wishes to know why we are contacting them and the source of his/her contacts details from, advice concerning commercial permission given by students should be provided, indicating that as part of initial registration the student has agreed to receive such information.
Cyber bullying and harassment
OUA has policies that are designed to protect students from cyber bullying and harassment. It enforces enrolment restrictions on students who are in breach of its Bullying and Harassment Policy.
Students are encouraged to report instances of bullying and harassment.
The various jurisdictions around Australia have or are progressively tightening the law concerning grooming, particularly for students under 16, by introducing or passing legislation that makes it a crime whether in person or online, including the grooming of families and parents. While the laws focus on the offenders themselves and not on the organisation through which an offender might participate in grooming, OUA is committed to the protection of it students from grooming activities and any online harassment.
It does this by:
- Providing advice about online safety (See Appendix A) while supporting and encouraging collaboration across student cohorts who do not know each other.
- Ensuring all students who are 181 years and younger are sent advice about online safety as part of the enrolment process.
- Enforcing a Bullying and Harassment policy which allows OUA to restrict student enrolment or online access to OUA provided services.
- Supporting providers in their policies restricting staff access to OUA students under 16 to staff who have working with children clearance2.
Two of the major sources of scamming are phone contact and email contact. OUA provides advice about avoidance of scamming (See Appendix A) as part of its online safety policy, and has instituted processes to ensure that its students are clear about the authenticity of any outbound contact from the organisation.
Students under 18 will be sent a copy of the Online Safety Advice (see Appendix A)
The Online Safety Advice is made available on the OUA website and other social media sites.
Appendix A: online safety advice
Safety while studying on the internet
As part of online learning you will be participating in online discussion and activities with fellow students. This is a vital and valuable part of learning and you are encouraged to take up the opportunity to enhance your learning though the proven benefits of social collaboration. However, there are some precautions that it is important that you take.
Though you are in a generally safe environment, it is important that you still remain on your guard against identity theft, scamming and harassment. Sometimes people who have been scammed, had their identities stolen by a criminal or harassed have inadvertently contributed to this by sharing too much information, including posting too much personal information about themselves on the internet, particularly on social networking sites.
Our advice is that you don't post personal information that can be used to identify you personally, such as your date of birth, address, telephone number or email account details, in your study-related chat rooms or social networking sites. We do not advise that you arrange to meet fellow students in person or communicate with them privately unless you already know them and trust them.
Some online safety tips are:
- Don't post too much information online.
- Be careful about publishing your photo online.
- Don't publish your email address. It can be used to scam you.
- Make sure social networking profiles are private.
- Limit online friends outside your study group itself to only those you actually know.
- Don't answer personal questions with too much information when responding to questions over the internet or when using instant messaging, chat rooms or blogs.
- Be careful in choosing user names. Do not choose anything that reveals gender, location, email address or age.
- Remember people aren't always who they say they are.
- Be aware that professional scammers exist who may try to use a legitimate study activity as a cover for their activities.
- If anyone suggests contact privately outside your study activities, be very cautious. It is a good idea not to follow up on such suggestions.
- Be very careful about publishing photos online or sending them via phone.
- Beware of any email you get where you can't identify who it came from.
- Do not click on a link in an email. Rather open a browser and type the address.
- If anyone asks you for money, bank details or similar, cease all contact with that person.
- Go to the various websites (named below for reference) to find out more about how to protect yourself online:
If anyone tries to bully, harass or make inappropriate suggestions to you as part of your studies do not hesitate to contact OUA at firstname.lastname@example.org