In the spotlight: Safer Internet Centre Cyprus

As part of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Quality Assurance Programme (QAP), the Insafe-INHOPE Coordination Teams are jointly conducting a set of ten country visits to national Safer Internet Centres (SICs) to better understand what is happening in the Member States: monitoring emerging issues and challenges, identifying good practices to be shared, and harvesting the results of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) policy. Due to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a visit planned to the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre had to be converted into an online meeting that took place on 3 December 2020, bringing together a group of diverse stakeholders and SIC consortium partners. 

Date 2021-07-08 Author BIK Team Section awareness, helplines, hotlines Topic media literacy/education Audience media specialist, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers

The meeting kicked-off with a stakeholder roundtable which aimed to hear from national stakeholders and strategic partners about their current activities and collaboration with the national SIC. For Safer Internet Centre Cyprus, the following partners were present:

  • The Digital Security Authority (DSA) is a new independent governmental agency under the supervision of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation. It is responsible for the implementation of the European Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive, with a strong focus on upgrading and maintaining high levels of cybersecurity for all the operators of essential services and critical information infrastructures in Cyprus, including operators in the energy, water, transport, health, banking, financial market infrastructure, digital infrastructure sectors, and digital service providers. Against this background and in relation to the work of the Cypriot SIC, the DSA raises awareness by promoting the National Strategy for a Better Internet for Children in Cyprus as well as promoting a cybersecurity culture in the country.
  • Two research labs of the Computer Science Department of the University of Cyprus (UCY), namely the Software Engineering and Internet Technologies (SEIT) and the Networks Research Laboratory (NetRL), are involved in the activities of the CYberSafety project. These labs develop tools for awareness raising and privacy, such as the eFollowMe game, PrivacySafer II browser extension, PrivacyAnalyzer web platform, as well as Case Management Platform and Tools (CMPT) for the helpline and hotline.
  • Established in 2004, Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) is orientated towards applied research. The university aspires to establish for itself a role in support of the state and society in their efforts to confront problems, which cover all areas of science and technology. CUT contributes to the work of the Cypriot Safer Internet Centre by spreading awareness through seminars and workshops in schools, creating materials for cybersafety courses targeting students, teachers and parents, and through constantly improving its Cybersafety Family Advice Suite (CFAS) which detects cybersafety threats faced in online social networks such as cyberbullying, sexual harassment and hate speech, and advises minors and parents on how to deal with such threats.
  • The Pancyprian School for Parents (PSP) aims to educate parents on the subjects of upbringing and education of children. In this regard, the PSP offers around 250 lectures to parent associations in schools throughout the year and organises educational seminars for parents and teachers. As a part of their participation in the CYberSafety project, the PSP has offered lectures to parent associations, educational seminars, radio shows, magazines and a manual for parents.
  • Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute (CNTI), formerly the Safer Internet Centre Coordinator, is a non-profit, non-governmental independent organisation active in programmes with future orientation in areas related to the human brain, modern technology, social transformation, and the repercussions of relevant research for humanity. It contributes to the CYberSafety project through the development of eight interactive activity packages on topics derived from a needs analysis survey for trainers and teachers. CNTI also implements interactive workshops for students, teachers and parents. At the time of the visit, CNTI had held 96 such workshops, through which it had reached 55 parents, 187 teachers and 2,147 students.
  • Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) is a semi-governmental organisation established with the aim of providing, maintaining and developing a comprehensive telecommunications service, both nationally and internationally. Cyta is considered to be the leading provider of integrated electronic communications services in Cyprus. It provides a broad range of services such as telephony, internet and TV, as well as facilities which aim to satisfy the ever-increasing needs of its customers for voice and data applications. Cyta aims to provide a safe internet service through tools such as Cleanfeed, SafeWeb and safeMobile. In addition, Cyta organises presentations and workshops for students, parents and teachers on online safety topics.
  • Established in 2004, Epic is one of the largest telecommunication providers in Cyprus. It provides integrated mobile and fixed telephony, internet and pay TV services, as well as specialised ICT solutions for businesses. Within the CYberSafety project, Epic has been involved in the organisation of Safer Internet Day events in Cyprus since 2016. The company has also produced the iWhiz quiz app which promotes online safety awareness among students. Epic also provides the 1480 hotline service as part of the Cypriot Safer Internet Centre. 
  • The involvement of the European University of Cyprus in the work of the Safer Internet Centre has been through the development of training modules for educators in collaboration with the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute.
  • The Commissioner for Children’s Rights is an independent institution which deals exclusively with the rights of the child and whose competences and obligations are prescribed by law. The Commissioner was appointed by the Council of Ministers in 2007. The mission of the Commissioner is to protect and promote the rights of the child.

The Cyprus Safer Internet Centre, CYberSafety, aims to strengthen the efforts for the creative and safe use of the internet in Cyprus. The SIC consortium is coordinated by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (CPI). Other consortium partners for the current project phase include Digital Security Authority (DSA), University of Cyprus (UCY), Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), Pancyprian School for Parents (PSP), Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute (CNTI), Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) and Epic.

The awareness centre supports the work of the Safer Internet Centre by developing educational materials, resources and tools, as well as organising campaigns to empower children, young people, parents, carers and teachers with skills and knowledge on how to be safe online and benefit from the advantages that the digital environment can offer. The website serves as the main awareness-raising portal of the SIC. This portal brings together information on events, conferences, workshops, competences and summer training camps that the awareness centre organises or takes part in. It also provides galleries of interactive games and informational videos, and collections of relevant news items as well as publications

The youth panel of the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre aims to enable youth participants to share knowledge and experiences, and to formulate suggestions and actions regarding the creative and safe use of digital technologies and the internet. At the same time, CYberSafety Youth Panel members act as ambassadors of best practices and actions, aiming to create innovative resources and disseminate messages about the safe use of the internet to their peers and other involved groups. The centre works with a total of 136 youth panelists who have been involved in 41 actions.

The helpline and hotline activity of the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre is led by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (MOEC), while the University of Cyprus (UCY) supports on the technical level. Helpline 1480 provides advice and support on issues related to cyberbullying, excessive use of the internet, grooming, sexting and sextortion, as well as problems pertaining to social media (such as fake profiles, account violations, inappropriate and harmful content, and so on). The Hotline 1480 service of the Cyprus SIC focuses on child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as well as racist and xenophobic materials that violate the law, among other illegal online content.

It is worth noting that the SIC consortium members are working in close partnership with each other and collaborate actively in the various projects they run. Furthermore, the SIC has developed a strong network of partners and stakeholders including the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (MOEC), the Office for Combating Cybercrime Cyprus Police (OCCCP) and the Office of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights.

Further information about the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre more generally can be found on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) public portal, including links to its national website and other contact information. Similar information can be found on the BIK portal for all Safer Internet Centres in Europe.

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