2020 has been a year of epic change as we all work together to minimize the adverse impact of COVID-19. There's been extensive coverage in blogs and media as businesses navigated a rapid transition to remote work for their employees and pivoted to address an entirely new set of security considerations.
Now, as schools reopen, in many parts of the world administrators are exercising caution, and teachers and students are again facing the prospect of distance learning. Schools and families need to consider new internet security and safety dynamics as students connect to the internet in their homes, rather than in classrooms.
Schools have resources, and often policy incentives and funding, to implement security defenses to protect staff and students on the internet. With a little extra effort, schools can also implement content filtering to ensure a safe and productive internet experience while students are on site.
Families face a different set of circumstances. Few parents are equipped to manage internet security and content filters, yet time online has been trending upward for years and distance learning means even more connected hours. Teenagers and even young children are already almost universally accustomed to connecting virtually, but now social interactions are even more biased toward online.
Governments are working to help. One visible example is the United States where the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has educational provisions with funding for technology, including internet access for families that could not otherwise afford it. A condition of CARES funding is that internet connections must meet requirements defined in the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to minimize the possibility children access obscene or harmful content on the Internet. CIPA defines requirements for blocking or filtering access to content deemed obscene or harmful to children.
Providers around the world are also stepping up with various subsidized service offers and safeguards. UNICEF, the renowned United Nations organization focused on child welfare issues has also recognized the impact of COVID-19 and offers guidance to keep children safe online that includes using technology such as parental controls.
Service providers partnering with schools to provide internet access can help ensure all children, regardless of their economic status, can get connected and learn. The power of provider networks is perfectly positioned to deliver safe and secure internet, anywhere it's needed in the regions they serve.
Network based solutions provisioned by ISPs and MNOs make it simple for schools to help distance learners get protections to ensure productive online experiences. Parents get peace of mind that their children are protected without the need to install or configure any hardware or software on any of the multitude of devices found in most homes today.
Akamai is heavily engaged with ISPs and MNOs worldwide. Innovative new products like SPS Shield equip providers to respond quickly to these new market dynamics and can be configured to achieve the requirements of CIPA, or other guidance or regulations that may be in place. Providers also get to demonstrate a commitment to protecting their customers at a time when everyone is challenged and stressed.