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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-20477: Joan McAlpine (South Scotland)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 7 December 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what measures are in place to educate people on the risks of being “catfished”, the act of luring a person into a relationship through using a fake identity online.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 December 2018

Internet safety is largely a reserved matter and any decisions on the regulation of the internet is currently made by the UK Government. Scottish Ministers are, however, developing and implement policy relating to child internet safety using their devolved responsibility for education, policing and child protection.

The Scottish Government takes online risks and unacceptable behaviour such as ‘catfishing’, very seriously, which is why, through the Child Protection Improvement Programme, we published the National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People in 2017, setting out our priorities for equipping children and young people to stay safe online and help professionals, parents and carers to support children in their online activity. We have committed to publish a progress report in 2019 which will also consider further actions that will reflect the rapid evolution of online technologies and our need to ensure we respond appropriately.

At national level we have established an expert group for preventing sexual offending involving children and young people, with a strong focus on cyber enabled offending. It is identifying how to further improve the whole system approach to preventing sexual offending involving children and young people.

Education Scotland published the new Experiences and Outcomes for the Technologies area of the curriculum which includes internet safety and cyber resilience.

The Scottish Government also published the ‘Cyber Resilience Learning and Skills Action Plan’ in March 2018. The plan recognises the need to keep ourselves, our families and our organisations safe and secure, and able to manage threat whilst acknowledging the enormous opportunities digital technologies provide.

Activity includes support through the National Cyber Security Funding Programme to Young Scot for the development of social media campaigns focusing on online safety and support to Education Scotland to enable a dedicated drive on supporting teachers to support children and young people to become more cyber resilient.

The Scottish Government works in partnership with the UK Safer Internet Centre to promote Safer Internet Day and supports the South West Grid for Learning to deliver a series of Online Safety Live events across Scotland throughout 2018 and 2019.

We continue to participate in, and contribute to the work undertaken by the UK Council for Internet Safety through which government, the tech community and the third sector work together to ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.

Scotland has dedicated funding for support services, supporting adult survivors of child abuse, through its Survivor Support Innovation and Development Fund and other routes.

Adult support and protection measures can be used to safeguard vulnerable adults who are victims of internet-based romance scams or frauds.