Teenangels.org - Official Blog

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Marvel and WiredSafety Launch in DC!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Marvel and WiredSafety Partnership Reception
Hosted by Senator Ted Stevens

On July 13, in the Mansfield Building of the Capitol, Senator Stevens hosted a reception launching the WiredSafety and Marvel partnership. After driving down to DC in the morning with Parry and two of our Teenangels, Kevin and Alyssa, we first went to the Federal Trade Commission building to meet Commissioner Harbor. Her kids are Tweenangels and attended the conference as well. She was very sweet and charming and was willing to offer whatever help we needed. Commissioner Harbour also introduced us to Commissioner Thompson who was kind enough to take a couple of hours to talk to us.

He trained me, Kevin, and Alyssa in the different aspects of privacy in the FTC, and what roll they play in ensuring that sites are living up to their privacy standards. Commissioner Thompson specializes in international privacy and explained to us the challenge of developing and enforcing international privacy standards. He elaborated on the need for cooperation and compromise among the different countries, as well of the sharing of information regarding privacy. We also learned about the FTC’s involvement in the recent Hooked on Phonics case. Hooked on Phonics, contrary to their privacy policy, was selling their customers’ information to third parties. After being discovered they changed their privacy policy to indicate this practice, but did not change the date on the privacy policy, which is necessary to indicate to their customers that a change has been made. (You can read more about this at Parry Aftab’s website, http://www.aftab.com, and at her blog, http://theprivacylawyer.blogspot.com.)

Commissioner Thompson expounded on the current hot issues of privacy, including RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). I realized that there are no clean cut solutions when it comes to privacy, and as technology advances, there is more opportunity for compromise in consumers’ privacy. It is important, therefore, to gauge consumers’ thoughts on privacy and how much of it they are willing to sacrifice for certain conveniences. This is clearly a daunting and complicated task, namely because many consumers are not even aware of the privacy issues. However, through the FTC, awareness campaigns, and the work of Teenangels and WiredSafety, we can go about educating the public on such matters and encourage them to become active in taking control of their personal information and rights to privacy. After this training, Commissioner Thompson shared more personal advice, namely about music and the arts, the pursuit of dreams, the importance of questioning, and focusing on what we can do opposed to what we can not. A brilliant man, he was an inspiration to us all and we appreciated the time and honesty he shared with us.

Without a moment to lose, we hurried over to the Capitol to set up for the reception. It went better than we could have hoped for. Many Senators, industry members, Congressmen, Commissioners, press, interns, and best of all, kids, were in attendance. The safety skit put on by Marvel characters was a huge hit. It was a great way to launch a very special and important relationship between Marvel and WiredSafety that I believe will be the future of Internet safety education.

The program will involve special comic books dedicated to all aspects of our programs, from cyber-bullying, privacy, stranger danger, online security, safe searching, where to report cybercrimes and abuse, how to handle online intellectual property responsibly (starting with movies and software piracy), balance between online and offline activities, safe e-commerce, identity theft, fraud and scams, malicious code, etc. The comics will be distributed without charge.

In addition, we will deliver live character appearances, from a simple Spiderman appearance (accompanied in each case by one of our trained WiredSafety volunteers), to larger multiple character shows which will be used to provide online safety, privacy and responsible surfing themed shows to schools, community groups, shopping malls, retailers, libraries, state fairs, corporate events and large corporate centers. Marvel will be contributing a special edition comic, using all their star artists and superheroes to deliver safe, private and responsible surfingmessages, each in one page illustrations.

Lastly, we are constructing a new free website, InternetSuperheroes.org, to promote the program and all youth online safety, privacy, security and responsible surfing programs, using the characters and Spidey's Web to create clubs, lesson plans for schools, printable and downloadable materials, all without charge.

We appreciate the support of Marvel, Senator Ted Stevens, Kelli, Christine, the Commissioners and all those without whom this day would have been impossible. It certainly was a day I will always remember.