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Safer Internet Day - Be the change: Unite for a better internet

Young people and the internet The Internet is a wonderful invention with endless possibilities and opportunities. And for young people it has become a fundamental part of their everyday life. But the internet is rife with dangers and warnings, and letting children loose on the internet with no protection or guidance is like letting them loose in a sweet shop and telling them not to touch anything. A few weeks ago, the ‘Growing Up Digital’ report released by the Children’s Commissioner said children are fending for themselves against online dangers, often signing away their privacy and agreeing to very unclear T&Cs – nearly 50% of 8 to 11-year-olds have reportedly agreed to social media firms’ vague Terms and Conditions. And it’s not just their privacy they are compromising. In just a few clicks and without many (if any) checkpoints, young children are able to see graphic pornographic material, advice that encourages eating disorders and self harm, excessive violence and race hate material – a harmful impact on any childhood. If that isn’t scary enough, the figures make for even more frightful reading… 73% of under 18s have watched porn One in 10 UK visitors to adult websites were children Nearly half of 11-16-year-olds had accessed an adult site   Safer Internet Day We’re proud to be a supporter of Safer Internet Day, coordinated in the UK by the Safer Internet Centre, where hundreds of schools and companies come together to raise awareness of online safety issues. Last year’s event reached 2.8 million children and 2.5 million parents in the UK. The theme this year, ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet’ brings to light a fundamental question: just how can we work together to make the internet better, and safer, for children? “Websites need to take responsibility to protect younger users, providing peace of mind to children and parents. It’s critical that they invest in new security measures and innovations to make the internet a safer place for our children. The key point here is making sure only adults can access adult content, and we protect innocent children and their childhood. The Digital Economy Bill, which will force adult websites to include age verification checks, is one measure by the government looking to increase child protection online.” Robin Tombs, CEO Yoti. We must do more until this law comes into effect. Children should be guided on how to use the internet safely, and not just educated from their teachers or parents, but from websites and companies too. This means having clearer Terms and Conditions that can be read, and crucially be understood, by children. Companies should also consider what data they ask for from users; only asking for the information they actually need. I’m sure they don’t need to know your past three addresses, as well as your mother’s maiden name and job role. All they really need to know is that you are who you say you are. You can find out more about our work on child protection online here and more about Safer Internet Day here.

3 min read
Our Guardian Council

Our Guardian Council

At Yoti, one of our core principles that guides our development is, ‘Be transparent and accountable’. Trust in technology companies appears to be on the decline, most likely because of data misappropriation and a lack of transparency. As a tech company that interacts with personal user data, integrity is paramount in everything we do. Our business cannot function without being trustworthy, so we’ve put measures in place to make sure we are always adhering to our principles and ethical framework. This is why we’ve integrated several initiatives into our operations to make sure we never stray from our core principles, one of these being the creation of our Guardian Council. Council activities The Council currently has three seats and will eventually have 8-10. They hold quarterly meetings and ad hoc communications when specific issues arise. Their role is to hold the business to account, which they do by having an ex-officio position on Yoti board meetings, ensuring a direct link between Yoti’s governance and the Guardian Council. Our guardians are expected to be vocal and proactive if any mistakes are made by the company, to ensure these mistakes are quickly identified and corrected. The bulk of these interactions take place at the Guardian Council quarterly meetings where minutes are taken and uploaded to our website for everyone to read.   The Council The Council itself is designed to be one of our key independent stakeholders and the selection process facilitates this. New members of the Council are first nominated by existing guardians, then confirmed by a Yoti community vote. They must have expertise in a given field and a demonstrated track record of promoting social enterprise or development. Guardians are also selected on the basis of being completely transparent about their profession and personal achievements, so there is full disclosure on who they are and what kinds of contributions they have made.   The result One of the issues the guardians have discussed is adapting Yoti for humanitarian purposes, and how Yoti should approach the Principles for Identification for Sustainable Development led by the World Bank. Yoti was involved in this initiative which aimed to help people around the world prove who they are so they could participate more actively in society and utilise various services. Public endorsement and adherence to these principles was discussed by the board. You can see the board minutes here. The Council also ensures we are following the B Corp charter. As a certified B Corp, we are part of a global initiative to redefine the traditional indicators of corporate success and use the power of business to make a positive impact on the world. The council has helped us to create a fully transparent system of accountability. It has been effective in its work which ensures Yoti operates with moral and ethical integrity. Our Guardians Renata Avila: Renata started her career in the legal domain, representing victims of genocide in Guatemala. She then moved into research, policy advocacy and public speaking on issues of surveillance, open internet principles and transparency. Doc Searls: As one of the first people to recognise the transformative nature of the internet, Doc has been active in the tech and digital space for more than three decades. Doc also holds teaching positions and leads research projects at Harvard University and the University of California Santa Barbara. Gavin Starks: Gavin is a serial entrepreneur who has over 20 years of experience creating data-driven businesses. He founded Dgen, which specialises in creating federated partnership programmes to facilitate positive social, environmental and economic impacts on businesses. Seyi Akiwowo: Seyi is the Founder and Executive Director of Glitch, a young not-for-profit organisation that is determined to end online abuse through advocacy, campaigning and education. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, a Fellow of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and served for four years is politics as Councillor in East London.

4 min read
Meet the Guardians: Doc Searls

Meet the Guardians: Doc Searls

“For the last two decades, I have been encouraging solutions to identity issues that start by empowering individuals. In Yoti I see one of the most creative and potentiated approaches to this challenge, and welcome the opportunity to help guide the company’s efforts as the new and protean marketplace for individual empowerment evolves.”   Yoti Guardian Council Yoti Guardians are influential individuals who ensure that Yoti always seeks to do the right thing, and that we are transparent about what we are doing and why. Guardians will bring their expert, independent perspectives and skills to three main responsibilities: Making sure Yoti optimises its products, services and partnerships to make life simpler for its user community. Ensuring Yoti stays consistent with its mission to build trust and give the user control of their personal data. Reporting any breaches of trust and representing any concerns shared by a significant percentage of the user community.   Doc Searls As one of the first people to recognise the transformative nature of the internet, Doc has been active and public in the tech and digital space for more than three decades. He has championed the use of technology in ways that benefit individuals, is a principled advocate for free and open source software, and also works to increase the control individuals have in digital interactions with companies and other institutions. Doc does most of his work in partnership with his wife Joyce. Together they are based in Santa Barbara and New York, and travel a great deal in their work. Doc is perhaps best known as an author through his books, The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), which covers the increased independence and empowerment of individuals in the marketplace; and The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), which was an early and still widely sourced manifesto on the Internet’s impact on society. He is also a lifelong journalist and pioneering blogger who served as an award-winning editor of Linux Journal for more than two decades. Doc is the Founder and Director of ProjectVRM at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, a long-term community effort encouraging development of tools that provide people with both independence from vendor lock-in and better ways of engaging with vendors (cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/projectvrm). He also co-founded the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW), an un-conference held twice yearly at the Computer History Museum in Silicon valley (iiworkshop.org). Doc is a fellow of the Center for Information Technology and Society (cits.ucsb.edu) at the Unversity of California, Santa Barbara, an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klein Center, a visiting scholar (with his wife Joyce) with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University, and was a visiting scholar as well with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Through their work in digital identity and IIW, Doc and Joyce bring to the Guardian Council a commitment toward making sure Yoti is empowering its users to be independent actors who retain autonomous control over their own personal data, and their Yoti-enabled interactions with others. Doc will also help Yoti identify complementary initiatives and products that share the same values around serving the needs of individuals, rather than the companies with which individuals engage. The best place to stay up to date on Doc Searls’ work is through his personal blog (doc.searls.com) and on Twitter: (@dsearls)

3 min read
Meet the Guardians: Renata Avila

Meet the Guardians: Renata Avila

“Yoti is one of the rare companies placing people’s rights, especially people’s right to privacy, at the centre of its mission and coding it into the design of its product. This is important because laws and business practices are lagging behind the rapid pace of innovation in technology. I’m honoured and excited to offer my perspectives on digital inequality and human rights best practices as Yoti works to overcome the challenge of the next decade: restoring trust. I hope we can make the Guardian Council a good practice that will spread across this sector and others.”   Yoti Guardian Council Yoti Guardians are influential individuals who ensure that Yoti always seeks to do the right thing, and that we are transparent about what we are doing and why. Guardians will bring their expert, independent perspectives and skills to three main responsibilities: Making sure Yoti optimises its products, services and partnerships to make life simpler for its user community. Ensuring Yoti stays consistent with its mission to build trust and give the user control of their personal data. Reporting any breaches of trust and representing any concerns shared by a significant percentage of the user community.   Renata Avila Renata is a human rights and intellectual property lawyer, and an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression, privacy, access to information and indigenous rights. Renata is from Guatemala, but now lives in Berlin, and travels around the world regularly. Renata started her career in the legal domain, representing victims of genocide in Guatemala, and then moved into research, policy advocacy and public speaking on issues of surveillance, open internet principles, and transparency. She has advised organisations such as the Open Society Foundations, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Bank. Working with Tim Berners-Lee and others at the World Wide Web Foundation, Renata leads the Web We Want initiative, aiming to push for a positive, rights empowering internet. The initiative, which has engaged millions of individuals and organisations around the world, aims to shape the Web in a way that is rooted in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, including principles very relevant for Yoti’s work:   Freedom of expression online and offline. Affordable access to a universally available communications platform. Protection of personal user information and the right to communicate in private. Diverse, decentralised and open infrastructure. Neutral networks that don’t discriminate against content or users.   Renata also founded Creative Commons Guatemala (which enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools), and is a member of the global Creative Commons Board. Renata brings a principled voice to the Guardian Council to ensure that Yoti maintains the highest standards of respect for user privacy, and stays on the forefront of legal issues around individual privacy and digital rights. Renata will also be able to help Yoti identify partner organisations with shared interests around using cutting edge technology in ways that support human rights. The best place to stay up to date on Renata’s work is through her personal blog renataavila.org and also on Twitter (@avilarenata).

3 min read