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The Federal Government has commissioned the development of iPad, iPhone and Android apps for its cybersafety help button, as well as a plugin for internet browsers.
Abul Rizvi, deputy secretary of the Department of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Economy’s (DBCDE) said the software - already available as a free download - will be available free of charge in app stores or built into browsers from the second half of this year.
Rizvi informed the Joint Committee on Cybersafety today that DBCDE had commenced work on the second stage of the help button.
“This includes a button for mobile applications such as Android and Apple iPhones and iPads. Also at browser levels it will be available to Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and FireFox so users can download the help button as a tab on their toolbars,” he said.
The button was initially developed by Saltbush Group, a Canberra-based security company, reportedly for about $73,000.
The first version of the Help Button relied on Flash software, which posed difficulties for iPad users whose devices did not readily support flash-based applications.
Launched on 7 December, 2010 in response to requests from the Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety, The Department sees the help button as one-stop shop on cybersafety information and assistance.
“It provides internet users - particularly children and young people but also parents and teachers - with easy online access to a wide range of resources to help with cyberbullying, unwanted contacts, scams and fraud and inappropriate material,” Risvi said.
He revealed that the Queensland Education Department had downloaded the button for its entire school network.
“This makes it available to 177,000 users,” he said.
“We are encouraging other school systems to do likewise and we are also encouraging libraries to do likewise.”
Downloads by individuals continues to increase. One download may see the button installed on many more systems and multiple sites.
Chair of the Cybersafety Committee Senator Dana Wortley commended the Department on how easy it was to install and use the button.
Asked to estimate how many times the button had been downloaded, Rizvi said that “at least 200,000 buttons exist on a range of computers around Australia.”
“That has been predominantly as a result of initiatives undertaken by the Queensland Department of Education,” he said.
The bigger challenge will be getting to parents, he said. The Department hopes teacher and parents advisory groups will improve the awareness of the button to parents.
Senator Wortley told iTnews the Joint Committee on Cybersafety would issue an interim report of its findings with recommendations on a range of issues including cyberbullying, education resources and parental aids towards the end of June 2011.
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