Press Releases

Symantec Wows Internet Safety Technical Task Force with Norton Family Safety

Owen Sweeney, manager, U.S. State Government Affairs: Thursday, July 10th, 2008 | 10:00 am

Last week on the campus of Harvard Law School, David Lee of Symantec Research Labs demonstrated our newest consumer pilot technology, Norton Family Safety, to the Internet Safety Technical Task Force. Neither an age or identity verification tool nor a product that simply allows parents to "spy on" their children, the product encourages discussion between parents and kids, starting with the development of computer usage rules that are in line with the family's values. Kids will always be aware that the product is active on the system. Already having been wowed myself by a demo of Norton Family Safety, I was eager to see the reaction of the Task Force's members to this innovative online safety solution.

Scanning the room during David's presentation I was not disappointed: I saw several heads nodding in approval and heard many enthusiastic comments praising Norton Family Safety as "a great idea for parents" with a "refreshingly open approach." Said Marsali Hancock, President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, "Thank you so much! It's clear Symantec has been listening to what we've been saying about giving parents the tools to help their children safely navigate the Web 2.0 environment." Sounds like we have a winner.

But this is not simply about Symantec leading the way in the market with a new product; it also demonstrates Symantec's leadership in the public policy arena. It was last summer in Raleigh, North Carolina where Symantec added its voice to a coalition opposing a well-intentioned, though flawed, piece of legislation that would have required social networking websites to confirm the identities of parents who are providing permission for their minor children to access the site. Having built our reputation as a leader in helping parents provide guidance to children who are using the Internet, we researched the technologies that the legislation was looking to mandate, and while acknowledging their effectiveness for some uses, concluded that they were not yet accurate enough to be used for such a serious purpose as protecting children from sexual exploitation. Instead, we recommended a study of available technologies, which is where we are today.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was formed in January through a joint agreement between MySpace and forty-nine state attorneys general to consider technologies that industry and end users can use to keep children safe on the Internet. Two more meetings are scheduled for September and November, the September meeting being open to the public. The Task Force is required to submit a final report to the attorneys general on December 31.

As for Norton Family Safety, it is currently in private beta. A pubic beta will be made available by the end of the year with the product expected to go to full market sometime in 2009.