Interview: LGBT-specific internet safety initiative launched


The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), which teaches people how to maintain their online safety and security, has partnered with the LGBT Technology Partnership to better reach members of the LGBT community.

Founded in 2001, the NCSA has worked to teach how to stay safe online to everyone, but as of late has been focusing on tailoring awareness campaigns to fit specific populations. Its work with the LGBT Technology Partnership will produce a cyber education toolkit focused on the unique needs of the LGBT online population, including the creation of posters, fact sheets, and tip sheets.

Research has indicated that educating the LGBT community on cybersafety is vital, with a 2012 LGBT Community Survey showing that 27% of gay men and 18% of lesbians are early adopters of new technology; smartphone users are also more common, with 87% of people in the LGBT community owning them, while the national average is only 62%.

To learn more, we got an exclusive interview with Chris Wood, co-founder of the NCSA.

429Magazine: What other groups are you targeting with information tailored to their specific needs?

Chris Wood: The LGBT Technology Partnership is mainly focused on the LGBT individuals and communities spread across this country. Within these LGBT communities we have several different groups that make up those communities as a whole; military, older, younger, students and parents just to name a few. Each group interacts with technology, digest news, information and entertainment and communicates with other communities, friends and loved ones differently from the next. LGBT Technology Partnership and NCSA will continue to provide information, resources and hold events that touch the community as a whole but also be tailored to individual users.

429Mag: What sort of “unique needs” are specific to the LGBT community?

CW: LGBT Communities have several issues that may not seem immediately obvious and they differ from the concerns other minority communities because of certain stigmas and isolation, especially in rural parts. Technology, through smart phones, high-speed networks and other current and emerging technologies allow LGBT people to come together, to meet and to empower each other, regardless of geographic distance. No longer does an LGBT individual, regardless of culture or background, need to grow up in a world where they feel alone. With increased access to technology a whole new set of new and unique challenges present themselves.

For LGBT individuals who may still be closeted and unsure with whom they are going to share their sexual orientation or gender identity, privacy, confidentiality and security are of paramount concern. It is crucial that networks, social media platforms, and communication devices have adequate privacy controls to ensure that user data is never compromised or unintentionally revealed. This is especially important as high-tech and social media companies make upgrades or modifications, governments enact laws and privacy policies are updated.

Many other specific needs of LGBT communities revolve around the education and support for Cyberhate, Cyberbullying, Online Privacy and Online Safety. As the tip sheet mentions, “Once Posted, Always Posted.” The information anyone puts online is there for public consumption and when it comes to individuals that identify as LGBT they need to understand how to better protect themselves.

429Mag: The tip sheet “What LGBT Communities Should Know About Online Safety” includes as part of its advice regarding online harassment, “tell a trusted adult.” Will there be any literature aimed specifically at LGBT adults?

CW: The cyber tips sheet applies to the broader LGBT community in all age ranges. The specific tip on cyberbullying was geared specifically for LGBT youth to help them address potential issues associated with cyberbullying or cyberhate. In the future, we look to partnering with organizations to develop more expansive tip sheets for LGBT youth, adults, social platform users, just to name a few. We are going to continue to produce and provide tools and resources that will assist any LGBT technology user from any background [to]safely and confidently use the Internet.

429Mag: Are you distributing campaign materials in any schools? Libraries?

CW: We are not yet but would love to work with school districts, schools, state and local agencies and our partners to distribute and provide access to materials for LGBT youth, adults, seniors and whole LGBT communities.

429Mag: Does the fast pace of technology make it difficult to keep your cyber security and safety advice current?

CW: The fast pace of technology and the fact that studies show LGBT communities are some of the earliest adopters of new and emerging technology mean that it has become more important than ever to own your online profile and protect your identity. In partnering with the National Cybersecurity Alliances, we believe that the most important advice we can provide, especially when interacting with new technology, online platforms and across any network is to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

STOP – Take security precautions, make sure you trust the hardware or software you’re using.

THINK – Understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors with any technologies you use, especially any new technologies.

CONNECT – Enjoy [the]benefits of the technology and continue to make sure you’re protecting yourself.

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The first tip sheet, titled “What LGBT Communities Should Know About Online Safety”, can be viewed here. In honor of LGBT Pride Month Internet and Safety Month, the NCSA and LGBTTP are also planning a chat on Twitter regarding LGBT cybersafety issues for June 13. Information on the partnership between the two organizations is also available.


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Just another multi-disciplinary writer and bundle of contradictions trying to figure out how to get the most out of life, and make a living while I'm at it.

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