Childnet International : A corporate wolf in sheep's clothing

Sir William Stewart's advice (IEGMP) to the telecommunications to stop targeting children for cellphone sales looks like being a cry in the wilderness. Now we see the Telcos spin doctors creating front groups that appear to be concerned about the protection of children but are really about promoting children's cell phone use by stealth.

Enter "Childnet International", a non-profit organisation and registered "charity"working with others to "help make the Internet a great and safe place for children". http://www.childnet-int.org/default.aspx

One of the mission statements of "Childnet International" is revealing:

"Childnet believes that it is only by working actively with other partners in all sectors that the interests of children will be promoted in international communications."

And also from the website:

"Childnet's trustees come from a wide range of backgrounds including, telecoms industry, child protection, international development, finance, computer software and web design, education and marketing"

The Trustees:

The Chariman of the board of Trustees is Mike Conway, who also is an executive for an "international telecommunications company". A Google search turns up that a Mike Conway is a director of telecommunications products at NCR.

Stephen Hingston is a financial director of a "non-profit education and mission organisation". Stephen is also an expert in "international development issues".

Alice Swann the only doctor on the trust is an expert in the investigation of child sexual abuse.

Tom Bick runs his own computer software business

Sarah Foster works for OMF International as a Web and communications manager. A Google search for OMF International turns up that the only OMF International I could find is a worldwide fundamentalist Christian group who's mission is to "glorify God by the urgent evangelisation of East Asia's millions"!!!

[The fact that many of the Asians that they do convert become targets for Islamic extremists and end up dead does not seem to be a problem for OMF. As long as they die as Christians they gain eternal life in heaven whereas all those unconverted Muslim heathens are destined for Hell anyway! ]

Barry Taylor is a Director of Marketing for an educational IT supplier.

Vaughn Armstrong is a senior marketing executive.

The real agenda for Childnet International is clearly stated in its fact sheet at:

"Children & Mobile Phones: An Agenda for Action"

To quote in part: "This document seeks to set out and promote principles which will significantly contribute to promoting positive use of this technology by children and young people. . . The challenge is to ensure that the positive aspects for children far outweigh the potential negatives."

As to be expected, any possibility of harm form prolonged exposure to microwaves from cell phone use is nowhere to be found on the Childnet web site - no point scaring away the customers.

So have a look at http://www.childnet-int.org/default.aspx and if anyone would like to comment directly to Childnet about their "agenda" you can send a message to Stephen Carrick-Davies at the Childnet office via info@childnet-int.org

Don Maisch


You quoted the following from the Childnet website about cellphone use by children... "The challenge is to ensure that the positive aspects for children far outweigh the potential negatives." Most folks on your list would normally say that they agree with that statement, except that the "potential negatives", according to Childnet, don't appear to include negative health consequences, like neurological disorders, brain tumours and other side effects not listed on the product. Although they pointed out some legitimate concerns, they just happened to leave out the most important negative. But hey, that's marketing.

The second part of that sentence that the site didn't quote in the headline said "and that those who stand to benefit most are empowered to do so." They are attributing this to empowering children, but what they really are saying that they are empowering industry, after all they are "those who stand to benefit most."

It reminds me of the common industry tactic, creating a great sounding group name, using some convenient interpretation of facts, and still getting the industry's message across subtly. It's like making up a name like "Citizens Advocating Green Environments" "CAGE " pawning itself off as an independent concerned citizens group when it's really a shill for whatever vested interest group is willing to put up the money.

Oh well, tobacco targets kids. Why should we expect this industry to be any different.



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Oktober 2004

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