Cloud-Based Parental Control & Multi-Tenant Security Solution
The safety of minors who use electronic devices and the internet should be paramount for those that provide internet services as well as equipment manufacturers - it is a clear moral responsibility and is already a requirement of a European Framework on Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children, under which operators agree to support access control for adult content and the fight against illegal content on mobile devices. Similarly, there is already a growing demand in South Africa for local service providers to follow suit, with the UK leading the way with calls for network-level filtering to be implemented by all major Internet Service Providers by the end of 2014.
Typically, many local and international Internet Service Providers have considered filtering technologies that are well suited for the corporate enterprise; however, they do not scale well to larger high-capacity networks with millions of subscribers, leaving the operator with a relatively ineffective, costly solution that is not financially viable. Also, when traditional proxy-based web filtering solutions are deployed in the Service Provider’s network this can often introduce significant levels of latency into the end user browsing session and can potentially impact the subscriber’s quality of service, thus drawing negative attention to the brand. This is very much the reason why there is such a widespread misconception amount local Service Providers (and affiliated ISP associations) that providing Parental Control / internet filtering is cumbersome, expensive and impractical.
VirtueNet is currently the local market leader in the online safety arena, having partnered with leading technology suppliers across the globe to offer specialized web filtering solutions designed specifically for large networks typical to those of 1st & 2nd Tier Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), including Mobile Network Operators (MNO's) and other large Telco's. VirtueNet is able to consult with these Service Providers to deliver effective real-world solutions that have been tried and tested in the networks of some of the leading fixed-line and mobile network operators in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada, all of whom filter data traffic for millions of subscribers, without any noticeable impact and zero risk to their existing internet services. Furthermore, the costs are considerably lower than the most commonly used solutions (debunking the popular myth that network-level filtering is both unaffordable and complicated) thereby allowing Service Providers to generate additional income through value-added Parental Control services to their customer base.
A survey conducted in 2012 by one of the world’s leading mobile safety companies revealed that over 70% of parents in the UK & US where willing to pay between $3 to $5 USD (or R30 - R50) per subscription, per month for protection on their children’s mobile phones as well as filtering on their home broadband connections (i.e. ADSL, 3G etc). Our direct engagement with many South African parents confirms that the majority were more than willing to pay between R20 - R30 per subscription, per month for the same. This clearly shows that local Service Providers also have the opportunity to enhance their corporate image by being "child-friendly" as well as monetize Parental Control services to generate up to 20% additional direct & incremental ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) which will allow them to recover all capital and operational expenses and generate significant revenue at the same time. In an age where customers are becoming increasingly concerned about their children's and families online safety, ISP's cannot afford to lose market share to those who offer filtered "clean-feed" solutions across mobile and fixed-line broadband platforms.
Fully-featured Parental Control Application for Mobile Devices
For OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) vendors of hardware devices such as smartphones or tablets, VirtueNet is able to partner with you to enhance your product offering by making it “child-friendly”, out of the box. Our VirtueNet MobileProtect Parental Control software application for Android or iOS devices will enable you to provide free or billable parental control services either embedded into the device or downloadable as a 3rd party software application, giving parents or guardians full control (via our web dashboard) over which web content, applications, or device features are appropriate for their child, and thereby adding value to your overall product offering. Our software is also “service provider agnostic” in that it can be used on devices on any mobile network and does not rely on the basic “in-network” parental control which is offered by some mobile network operators.
Being “on-device” software, the protection for children is far superior to parental control systems typically offered by mobile network operators and provides a “safe browser” that locks in SafeSearch functionality for any image or web search done on Google (or any other major search engine) as well as blocking unsafe 3rd party browsers that are capable of encrypting data by thus bypassing. Combined with application control, geo-tracking, sim-swap protection, comprehensive reporting, call blocking and much more, VirtueNet MobileProtect is the perfect value-added service for any OEM vendor.
VirtueNet is currently working with Samsung in South Africa, who are the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer to set a new benchmark in child online safety on mobile devices – and undoubtedly many other OEM vendors will follow their lead. Our all-in-one Parental Control solution offers every protection feature that a concerned parent could need to ensure their child has a safe online experience with your product and will enhance your reputation as a vendor who is concerned about the safety of younger users.
National-Level Regulatory Compliance
Apart from Service Providers, VirtueNet is also able to consult with government agencies to address matters of regulatory compliance and the selection & deployment of the correct technologies required for large-scale, national-level filtering including central installation that is capable of filtering multiple ISP’s or gateways across the country for the purposes of child online safety only, which include the specialized filtering of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse imagery, generally known as child pornography). As far as CSA imagery is concerned, the possession of distribution of such content is (according to South African law) illegal in any shape or form. In light of this fact, government may confidently consider the implementation CSA filtering systems on a national level without infringing on an individual’s right to privacy or freedom of speech. As such, the proprietary technologies that VirtueNet provides for this purpose (which have been used successfully in many counties around the world) are carefully selected to ensure that this privacy concern is mitigated while ensuring that our local internet landscape is remains free of illegal CSA content.
When dealing with national-level web content filtering of any kind, VirtueNet will not, under any circumstances, consult or participate in, the implementation of filtering technologies that may in any way infringe upon an individual’s rights to privacy, censor freedom of speech, or hinder access to any other form of web content that does not fall within the scope of unsuitable, harmful or explicit adult content for minors which is typically defined as pornography, nudity, obscenity and profanity. In South Africa, for a minor to access or be in possession of such content is in any event illegal. Likewise, VirtueNet will only participate in the supply and deployment of general web content filtering systems for the purposes of regulatory compliance provided they are intended solely for the safeguarding of minors online, with suitable provision made for adult subscribers aged 18 years or older with the option to “opt-out” of mandatory filtering enforced by their service provider if they choose to do so, or alternatively to “opt-in” to voluntary filtering on their data subscription if preferred.