E-Safety Lists - Seven Questions You Need To Ask Your Provider

E-Safety Student PosterYou may have seen a while back some of the national news coverage that Impero got over the new e-safety lists. Myself and a number of others helped create them and the one thing that I learnt from the process is that is  Rule 34 is true. It also reaffirmed my belief that you need to think about the context when creating the lists and when you use them.

Lots of E-Safety programs have keyword lists that the customers can user however not all lists are equal and these are some of the questions you need to start asking your software vendor.

  1. Are the e-safety lists created by one person and who decides on the content?

The problem with list creation is they are often created by a single person in a silo.  When our e-safety officer started a redesign of the default Impero lists she started a working group. I have just quickly worked out that the Impero working group has over 70+ years of experience between us from a number of different backgrounds.  This core group was important as it meant that every word suggested could be debated if it was going into the list.
2. ## How did you come up with the words did they use an any authoritative sources or organisations to help?

Next you need to ask how the vendor how they thought of the words  did they work with any authoritative organisations. Impero worked with a number of expert organisations such as AntiBullying Alliance and B-Eat when creating the lists.
3. ## How did you use those sources?

Also need to check how they used these sources. As a lot of companies put logos on their website but then do not actively engage with that organisation and use their expertise .  As I previously said Impero engaged with a number of organisations we worked with them and tapped into resources they held on their subject.
4. ## Did you meet and discuss with the target audience you are trying to protect?

You need to find out if they engaged with any of the target audience they are trying to protect.  I am certainly not a  young person anymore and some of the words used by young people today are very different from when I was at school.  Language is always changing such as the word twerking. It was a very underused word until last year  when the now very famous Milly Cyrus dance made it mainstream. Impero conducted workshops with various groups of young people from number of different backgrounds.  Some sessions where through organisations such as AntiBullying Alliance and then some through our E-safety partnership schools.
5. ## What is the criteria for including or excluding a word from a list?

This is probably the most important question you need to ask your vendor . The way we approached it with Impero was to take all the words and categorise them. We then went word by word though each list and then decided as a group. We kept one underlying principle by trying to make them as comprehensive as possible but trying to minimise the false positives.
6. ## How can the lists help me understand the context?

We learnt very quickly the context of the word was important and you need an understanding of why a word was in there. Even for us as a group there where a number of words that we did not know the meaning which meant that our customers would struggle to understand why it was in the list as well. It was for this reason we added the glossary feature to the block policy section of Impero.  This allows you to add a glossary term to a block.  It means that when viewing a violation you can hopefully understand the context of the block.
7. ## Have/how they been tested?

Also ask how have they been tested before they released the lists. Like our software the lists goes through three stages before release. Internal testing which included formal testing by QA team but also running them on our internal network, then we have closed beta and open beta and then final release.  At each stage we checked the results to see if any false positives where being generated and once again as group we then decided if we needed to edit or remove the term.

Hopefully these questions will help you decide how useful a e-safety keyword list is. As you can see the process conducted by Impero hopefully means that our lists fulfil our number one aim “trying to make them as comprehensive as possible but trying to minimise the false positives”.

Russell Dyas

 I am a technologist.. I am a geek.. Who has a passion for providing honest advice, sharing resources and connecting people and ideas together. Currently working for Rencore.