Rory Birkbeck: the ‘lifesaver’ who’s child-proofing the internet

NZ Herald – Published by Bay of Plenty Times 16 June 2019
Family First Comment: Family First officially endorses this product for families.
Just a pity that the Government didn’t help make it more available.

Safe Surfer is a social enterprise he developed alongside friend Aaron Sinclair. The Tauranga pair have over 400,000 people in 120 countries using their technology service.

The South African Law Reform Commission will hold discussions next month about strengthening laws to protect minors on the internet, and a legal advocate has vowed to push for their Android app to be enforced as a default on all internet-capable devices in the country.

The organisation is also be working on encouraging people to buy a smart device or Safe Surfer “wi-fi lifeguard” ($164.35), which plugs straight into your existing modem to instantly create a safe wireless hotspot within your home.

In 2014 Birkbeck was employed to do a national rollout of iPads across New Zealand for in-home based childcare provider Footsteps, and saw a market for an easy solution to protect children online.

He contacted Sinclair, and the two developed Safe Surfer in 2016. The idea is for children to navigate the internet “between the flags” blocking explicit websites that contain pornography, drugs, gambling and violence.

…Safe Surfer allows parents to set time restrictions (which can also help with gaming addiction) and choose what material to block from 20 different categories.

It also enforces safe search options on Google and has a “stop/pause” button, which immediately shuts down the internet and takes all devices offline.

“Without a filtered search engine, accessing inappropriate content is easy,” Birkbeck says.

“I still think about how many millions of kids are using Google a day in that unfiltered view.”

# What is Safe Surfer?
Blocks all harmful websites and enforces safe search options on Google and YouTube so pornographic material can’t be accidentally seen. It’s easy to use as there’s no need to install or update software. Their app can’t be overridden without a pin code, giving parents reassurance that their children cannot deliberately uninstall it. Furthermore, the Safe Surfer lifeguard device connects to your home modem, giving your family safe internet instantly. No tech skills required.
# To find out more, go to: www.safesurfer.co.nz
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=12239902 (behind paywall)

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