'Start with video off': DOJ cybercrime office issues recommendations to protect children who take online classes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — The Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime has drawn up guidelines to protect from abuse and harmful contents children who use video conferencing services for online classes amid the security risks of using these digital platforms.

The cybercrime division advised the school administrators facilitating online classes to do the following:

1. Never share meeting room credentials, both the ID and password, publicly

2. Follow these meeting settings:

-Accept participants' request to join meeting individually

-Provide standard naming instructions for participants (ex. surname, first name, middle initial)

-Require a password from participants

-Mute participants upon entry

-Start the classes with the student's video off

-Disable screen share for participants who are not assigned in the virtual meeting room as host/s

School administrators should also prohibit participants of the virtual class to join before the host, rename themselves, send messages to other participants, share their whiteboard during a virtual meeting with others, use annotation tools to add information to share screens and replace their background with image, the office noted.

The Justice department’s Cybercrime Unit officer-in-charge Atty. Charito Zamora told CNN Philippines’ News.PH that some ill-intentioned individuals intrude virtual classes, sometimes displaying inappropriate content to the participants.

Zamora said the division has recently received such a report, after a student publicly shared the meeting room credentials.

“May nakapasok po at dinisrupt ang kanilang class. Eh mga menor de edad po ito, at apparently, naging sexual po ang naging approach ng isang indibidwal po na ito,” Zamora said.

[Translation: Someone else was able to enter and disrupted the class. The students are minors, and apparently, the intruder had a sexual approach when he/she interfered with the class.]

Faculty members must also ascertain they never leave the students in the virtual classroom unsupervised as well as keep the video conferencing app updated as “every service/application connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyberattacks,” the cybercrime division warned.

As for the parents’ role, they must teach their kids how to discern information online to reduce their risk of falling victim to a cyberattack, the office said.

The division also urged the public to report any irregularities or unwanted incidents during online classes to law enforcement agencies.

Most schools have opted to use virtual learning tools, including video conferences, to sustain formal education amid the COVID-19 crisis. Face-to-face classes are banned until a vaccine is available.

READ: Use of webcams, social media 'optional' in online learning to protect data privacy