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Expert Witness : Technology

NSPCC warns of cyber-safety ‘timebomb’

Childline and NSPCC logos for Your Expert Witness storyThe NSPCC has urged people to talk to children about being 'net smart' and called for age appropriate lessons on internet safety to be held in all schools from primary age.
On 4 February the charity issued a warning that the latest research, coupled with calls to ChildLine and focus groups with young people, now show beyond doubt that one of the major child protection issues today is abuse via the internet and mobile phones.

ChildLine carried out 3,745 counselling sessions last year about the issue, with most callers aged between 12 and 15. A further 250 contacts were from children who actually said they were being 'groomed' online. And there was a sharp increase in contacts about exposure to online pornography, with 641 contacts representing a 70% increase for boys, with some callers as young as 11 years old.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 18:51


Caught in the act: dieters deterred by electronic ‘guard-bird’

A picture of the PiFace interface on a RaspberryPi for Your Expert Witness storyAfter a festive period of excess, a January diet is one of the most common New Year resolutions for many people. Sticking to it, however, is not so easy, with temptation around every corner and inside every cupboard.

Now, computer experts at the University of Manchester have come up with a unique deterrent – a talking, tweeting chicken guarding your cupboards to shame hungry dieters into abstaining.

The chicken not only barks out orders to sneaky snackers, but even tweets that person's Twitter account to 'name and shame' them if they stray. It uses a Raspberry Pi – a tiny, single-board computer – in conjunction with the PiFace interface, which has been developed by the University's Computer Science Department to power real-life applications.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 13:48


MoJ to deliver services digitally

Picture of computer screen for Your Expert Witness storyOn 21 December the Ministry of Justice launched a 'digital strategy' that is aimed at transforming the way it delivers services. The MoJ says the strategy will help deliver digital services that are easier to use and better value for users and the Government and is a major step towards becoming digital by default.

Announcing the move, the MoJ said: "It will enable us to design our services around the needs of users: whether that's providing victims with more information about their case, allowing individuals and businesses to file claims more easily, or providing tools to help rehabilitate offenders.

"The strategy outlines our programme of digital transformation and identifies 20 actions grouped under four themes that will change the way we do business and help deliver a justice system that is more effective, less costly and more responsive for the public."

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 December 2012 14:42


Website accessibility proposals condemned by blind organisation

European Blind Union logo for Your Expert Witness storyEU proposals on accessibility of public websites for blind and partially-sighted people are "too little, too late", according to the European Blind Union.

On 3 December the European Commission published a legislative proposal on the accessibility of public websites. According to the EBU, it had promised legislative action for years, and the proposal was the Commission's first attempt at delivering on that commitment. It was meant to "...make sure that public sector websites (and websites providing basic services to citizens) are fully accessible by 2015", as set out in the European Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 18:21


Ban development of ‘killer robots’, argues campaigner

Cover of report on killer robots by Human Rights WatchA leading campaigner against the use of unmanned 'drones' on the battlefield has warned that the pre-emptive prohibition of fully autonomous weapons is needed. Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take defence technology a step too far, according to Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch.

Writing for the PublicServiceEurope newsletter, he argued that a number of governments, including some European states, are pushing forward with the development of fully autonomous weapons – also known as killer robots. Furthermore, they are being developed without the populations of these countries being aware of it.

"These are weapon systems that will function without any human intervention," he wrote. "The armed robot itself will select its target and will determine when to fire. This is a frighteningly dangerous path to follow in terms of the need to protect civilians during armed conflict."
The biggest danger is that, without a 'human hand' to guide it, the weapon would destroy indiscriminately.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:17