Safeguarding computers is both a safety and moral issue
In the county of Värmland, Sweden, two local authorities have ensured that all networked computers are protected against child sexual abuse material. This includes computers used by local authority employees and students in schools, as well as computers used in libraries and for ancestry research.
The two Swedish local authorities, Kil and Forshaga, share an IT Department and collaborate on IT issues. Head of IT for the Kil and Forshaga local authorities, Christian Söderblom, explains that local authority computers have several owners during their life-span. It is therefore a security issue to ensure that computers are as ‘clean’ as possible when handed over to the next person.
The local authorities have chosen to only block child sexual abuse material, and have no other web filters that limit what users can access.
“Our focus is solely on illegal material,” says Christian Söderblom.
The moral issue as important as safety
The IT Department has used NetClean ProActive for ten years to ensure that computers have safety measures in place against illicit material. However, the decision to invest in this software is also a moral one which has support from both the administrative and the political branches of the local authorities. Forshaga’s profile as a local authority with a strong focus on children and young people to ensure a good start in life, further strengthens the decision to invest in the fight against child sexual abuse material.
“The software is a given on moral grounds. Recently we were faced with budget cuts and discussed the investment at length. We came to the conclusion that if we, as a local authority, can make a difference on this issue, it is important that we continue to do so. When we initially took the step to invest in the software, the moral issue was as key to our decision making as the security aspects was, and it still is,” says Christian Söderblom.
Employees and the community are positive to the fact that the software is installed on the computers.
“We inform users that we have protection against child sexual abuse material, however most people are probably unaware that we have put that in place. The people who do know, or find out, always react positively to our investment.”
Key that images are classified by law enforcement
NetClean’s database does not include images of children, but instead it operates using digital fingerprints called hash values. These hash values are created when law enforcement classify images and films as illegal. To Christian Söderblom, the quality assurance that law enforcement has classified all images is a key part of the software NetClean ProActive.
“When we get alerted by the software, we react quickly and decisively, and that means that we must be sure that we are not acting on a false alarm.”
From a purely technical point of view, NetClean ProActive is easy to install and run.
“The software is part of our standard platform and does not require a lot of maintenance to ensure that it is updated and running well.”